The Information’s Alex Heath on Facebook’s XR Hardware Bets

information-heath

alex-heathAlex Heath reports on Facebook and their competitors for the subscription-only site The Information, and he’s been able to get some exclusive interviews and do some in-depth reporting on some of Facebook’s VR and AR hardware initiatives. As we’re on the cusp of Facebook Connect on Wednesday, September 16th, there are a lot of questions as to what other companies will be able to compete with Facebook’s current dominance in the consumer VR space, especially when it comes to their standalone VR headset of the Oculus Quest and the leaked videos of the Oculus Quest 2, which are expect to be announced tomorrow at Facebook Connect #`1 (which would have been called Oculus Connect 7 had Facebook not rebranded it).

Apple had an Apple Event on September 15th, 2020, but there wasn’t any XR news announced. Back on November 11, 2019, Heath and his colleagues reported on an internal October 2019 meeting where “Apple executives shared the company’s product roadmap for two augmented reality devices” including “Apple’s headset, code-named N301, will offer a hybrid of AR and VR capabilities” set for release in 2022 as well as Apple’s AR glasses code-named N421 set for release in 2023 that are “meant to be worn all day, and current prototypes look like high-priced sunglasses with thick frames that house the battery and chips, according to a person who has seen them.”

Apple seems to be the only other major tech conglomerate that will actively be battling Facebook in the consumer XR space, but we also talk about the other major players including Microsoft, Google. Qualcomm, Niantic, Amazon, Snap, Valve & HP + Microsoft, HTC, Magic Leap, NReal, and Tilt5.

But there is enough happening with Facebook that Heath can just focus on reporting on all of the many different dimensions of Facebook from their cryptocurrency plans, to their corporate news, as well as some of their XR hardware investments.

We also talk about some of the implications of how Mark Zuckerberg maintains a majority of voting shares to have unilateral control within Facebook, but also generally why Facebook and so many other major tech players expect that VR and AR represent a spatial computing paradigm shift in the next major computing platforms.

There aren’t a lot of other mainstream technology journalists who have been paying much attention to Facebook’s pioneering efforts in VR and AR, but the subscription-only business model of The Information allows him to go beyond the latest transgressions of Facebook’s social media network, such as this latest article from Buzzfeed on Facebook turning a blind eye to global political manipulation or the variety of issues covered in the The Social Dilemma documentary, which was recently released on Netflix on September 9th, 2020.

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