As is often the case with monopolies, Facebook still doesn’t seem satisfied with its dominance and utter lack of competition, despite their ever-expanding list of acquisitions.
The most popular acquisition Facebook made outside of its field was Oculus, with the belief that VR is the future and the hope that they’ll secure themselves a piece of that future’s pie. Facebook is currently constructing a 770,000 square foot campus that will be dedicated to building new hardware.
Facebook’s hardware lineup so far consists of the Oculus and the Portal. Both of these devices have seen minimal success. The former due to lack of interest buildup in VR, and the latter due to the obvious privacy ramifications of having a Facebook-made device with a camera and microphone in your home.
Nevertheless, Facebook clearly believes that VR and AR are the future. Until now, the Oculus has run a modified version of Android. To remedy this reliance, Facebook now seems to be planning to make their own operating system. This would give Facebook the same advantage that Apple has enjoyed, by designing their own hardware and software.
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Andrew Bosworth, head of hardware, said to The Information, “We really want to make sure the next generation has space for us. We don’t think we can trust the marketplace or competitors to ensure that’s the case. And so we’re gonna do it ourselves.”
According to Bosworth, Facebook is reportedly working on AR glasses, codenamed “Orion”, scheduled to arrive as early as 2023. This would add them to what is now a very short list of competitors in the AR realm, including Microsoft and Magic Leap. Bosworth also revealed that the new OS will be called Eye OS, and that Facebook has tasked Mark Lucovsky, co-author of Windows NT, to build it.
Facebook’s last attempt at an operating system was in 2013. In partnership with HTC, they released the HTC First, a mid-range smartphone that ran a Facebook skin on top of Android. The device failed due to weak hardware and was discontinued after selling only 15,000 units. Facebook’s interface was called “a glorified screensaver”. Let’s hope Eye OS fairs better.