Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made a surprise appearance at Samsung’s Mobile World Congress press conference Sunday to talk up progress in virtual reality and to promote VR in the future as “the most social platform.”
Facebook, of course, paid some $2 billion in 2014 to buy Oculus which has been working with Samsung on its Gear VR consumer headsets. In fact, Zuckerberg appeared on stage during the MWC event just after audience members took off the Gear VR headsets they had donned to experience virtual reality during Samsung’s presentation.
Zuckerberg is actually scheduled to deliver a keynote address to MWC attendees Monday, presumably to address Internet.org and Facebook’s struggles to bring affordable Internet to poor places around the world, which has met opposite due to net neutrality concerns.
But Zuckerberg was all about VR during his brief appearance on the Samsung stage.
“Pretty soon we’re going to live in a world where everyone has the power to share and experience whole scenes as if you’re just there, right there in person,” Zuckerberg says. “Imagine being able to sit in front of a campfire and hang out with friends anytime you want. Or being able to watch a movie in a private theater with your friends anytime you want. Imagine holding a group meeting or event anywhere in the world that you want. All these things are going to be possible. And that’s why Facebook is investing so much early on in virtual reality. So we can hope to deliver these types of social experiences.”
Facebook also said Sunday it had formed a team to create social interactions in virtual reality. The team will work with Oculus and others at Facebook. It also said it was bringing its streaming technology for 360 video to Samsung Gear VR in coming weeks
Facebook has been selling Gear VR for $99, though for the time being it will be bundled for free to folks who preorder the company’s latest flagship phones that were unveiled here, the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge. According to Zuckerberg millions of people will get their hands on a Gear VR this year.
To deal with the challenges in delivering social VR, Facebook recently created new teams to build the next generation of social apps in VR. Hundreds of new titles are coming to Oculus store this year, Zuckerberg says, including Minecraft.