More juicy news fodder is floating to the surface after yesterday's announcement that Facebook plans to buy Oculus VR. In a story about the deal, the New York Times quotes a source who claims Facebook will eventually redesign and rebrand the Oculus headset:
According to a person involved in the deal who was not allowed to speak publicly because he was not authorized by either company, Facebook eventually plans to redesign the Oculus hardware and rebrand it with a Facebook interface and logo.
Update: In a statement to TechCrunch, Facebook has denied the allegation by the Times' source. The rumored redesign is "not true and not in the spirit of our relationship [with Oculus]," Facebook says.
As the Times points out, news of the acquisition has also given one developer cold feet. Minecraft creator Markus Persson tweeted this yesterday:
We were in talks about maybe bringing a version of Minecraft to Oculus. I just cancelled that deal. Facebook creeps me out.
Still, the deal's architects maintain that it makes sense. In a blog post on the company's website, Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey says that he, too, had his reservations at first—but was eventually convinced:
When Facebook first approached us about partnering, I was skeptical. As I learned more about the company and its vision and spoke with Mark, the partnership not only made sense, but became the clear and obvious path to delivering virtual reality to everyone. Facebook was founded with the vision of making the world a more connected place. Virtual reality is a medium that allows us to share experiences with others in ways that were never before possible.
Luckey goes on to promise "[v]ery little changes day-to-day at Oculus," although he says the company will have "substantially more resources to build the right team." And speaking of resources, Luckey had some interesting things to add on Reddit:
We have not gotten into all the details yet, but a lot of the news is coming. The key points:
1) We can make custom hardware, not rely on the scraps of the mobile phone industry. That is insanely expensive, think hundreds of millions of dollars. More news soon.
2) We can afford to hire everyone we need, the best people that fit into our culture of excellence in all aspects.
3) We can make huge investments in content. More news soon.
Luckey went on to note, "This deal specifically lets us greatly lower the price of the Rift." That jibes with a related InfoWorld story that quotes Mark Zuckerberg as saying, "We're not going to try to make a profit selling the devices, long-term. We view this as a software and services thing." It sounds like Facebook could follow in the footsteps of console vendors with a razor-and-blades business model for the Oculus Rift.
I suppose that sounds pretty good. Then again, I can't help but notice that Luckey looks a little conflicted in the mugshot at the bottom of his blog post. Maybe he just got a call from Zuck about a FarmVille-branded Oculus headset...