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Oculus seeks partners in drive to get a billion people into virtual reality

But we won't believe we're there for 'a decade or two'

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Oculus, the company behind the ski-google Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset, is borrowing a page from Google's Android business-model playbook, and will seek partners to help it blanket the real world with virtual ones.

"If we do want to get a billion people on virtual reality, which is our goal, we're not going to sell 1 billion pairs of glasses ourselves," Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe told Bloomberg.

"We are openly talking to any kind of partner that wants to jump into VR, and there's a lot of interest right now," he said.

Not that Oculus will be capitalizing on that interest immediately – they'll likely wait to take on hardware partners until they ship their first consumer Rift, Bloomberg reports. Today, the headset is available only to developers along with its SDK, the second version of which is scheduled to ship next month.

"We need to get it right before we engage and work with other people," Iribe said, sensibly enough, although he didn't set a date for when he thought that might occur.

Iribe's decision to emulate the Android business model appears on the surface of it to be a smart move, depending of course upon how licensing deals are structured. It's unlikely that Oculus will make the Rift's tech open source, as did Google, which enabled Android to rapidly overtake Apple in the smartphone market-share wars.

Spreading Rift tech worldwide through partnerships would be a reasonable choice for Facebook, which acquired Oculus this March for $2bn. After all, Zuck & Co. aren't a hardware company, and don't have experience in supply chains, manufacturing, or retail distribution.

When announcing that acquisition, Zuckerberg gushed that "Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate."

Perhaps – but certainly not in the next few fiscal quarters. After all, Iribe is of the opinion that "the dream of sunglass VR where we all believe we're there is still a decade or two away". ®

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