Facebook consolidates consumer hardware focus under 1 executive
- Facebook is putting longtime executive Andrew Bosworth in charge of its augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and consumer hardware initiatives, the company confirmed to VentureBeat. Bosworth was previously vice president of ads and business platforms at the company, a role assumed by Mark Rabkin.
- The new position puts Bosworth in charge of Facebook's VR platform Oculus, its AR platform Facebook Spaces, as well as a rumored smart speaker and a video chat device reportedly called "Aloha."
- Facebook is excited about its long-term investments in VR, AR and consumer hardware and how those technologies have the potential to bring people closer together, a company spokesperson told VentureBeat. The spokesperson added that bringing these teams closer together will ramp up progress on its "10-year roadmap" for the technologies.
Consolidation at the executive level of these three technology areas indicates Facebook is eyeing them as a driver of business going forward. Consumer hardware is an area Facebook has often struggled to make a dent, even as it's changed the way people think about the digital space and social media, in particular.
Prior efforts at launching a Facebook smartphone have flopped hard and VR maker Oculus, which the social giant acquired for $2 billion 2014, has struggled to break out of niche spaces like gaming to become a mass-adopted product. In July, Facebook slashed prices of the Oculus Rift headset for the second time in a year.
Bosworth's background in ads and business development for Facebook adds an interesting wrinkle to the news. Not only does Facebook need to make better products from a technology standpoint, it needs to market them in a way that will win over shoppers who have no shortage of alternatives — a goal Bosworth might be able to achieve given his history.
The rumored smart speaker, for example, will have to compete with Amazon's Echo devices, Google Home and an upcoming offering from Apple, all of which have built-in digital assistants that are better-recognized than Facebook's "M."