Facebook Spaces, a virtual honey pot likely aimed at younger users
Virtual Facebook For those who find scrolling through their Facebook feed a yawn, the social media network is gunning for you with its launch of Facebook Spaces—a VR social experience where you can hang-out with Facebook pals. The launch is in beta and only available for download through Oculus Rift. (Hardly surprising as Facebook owns Oculus.) This is hardly the free Facebook experience you have now, but something aimed at a more well-heeled user. And no, you can't play on a Google Cardboard.
But the features Facebook Spaces is hawking are fairly robust, requiring a super powered, higher-end VR headset. To start, you can build and create your own avatar, and then build and create any object you want. Facebook friends can pop in, you can take virtual selfies and, interestingly, you can make Messenger calls—even with people who aren't in Facebook Spaces at the time, allowing your friends a window into your virtual world.
Virtual worlds, however, are hardly new. Twenty years ago everyone talked about Second Life, a space where you could interact with other through an avatar you created on your own as well. Of course fully immersive VR was not yet a consumer reality (and not really a consumer reality for those who don't have several hundred dollars to spare) and the features Facebook is unveiling through Facebook Spaces is quite different than those in Second Life.
Still, does anyone need a virtual extension of their social media network? Maybe not. But virtual reality is a technology those between the ages of 14 and 19 know well. Just 4 percent have not heard of the term, according to Touchstone Research. Conversely, only 3 percent of Facebook users are within the ages of 13 to 17 as of January 2017, says Statistica. Facebook clearly wants to see this user base grow. Virtual reality may be the entry.
Facebook is also likely to expand Facebook Space beyond Oculus Rift, a device few teens can afford. The company did not grow Facebook by staying on one platform like iOS and Android. Its success stems from access to anyone, from any device, anywhere. Expect Facebook Spaces to grow along the same lines.
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