Thursday, January 26, 2017
The announcement of Hugo Barra's departure from Xiaomi caught everyone by surprise, but we could easily suspect he already had something in mind to do in the US; something now confirmed by Zuckerberg's revelation that he will lead the VR division on Facebook, including Oculus.
The news was given by Mark Zuckerberg himself on Facebook, and it becomes interesting on several levels. Not only there's the small detail of both appearing as virtual avatars, allowing them to be together in VR even though they're on different continents (Hugo Barra is still in China); but the move also "takes care" of the delicate issue of Oculus, and Facebook's VR being associated with the controversial Palmer Luckey.
Hugo Barra has helped Android grow and become what it is today; helped Xiaomi to move from a "Chinese" brand to an international brand; and it makes perfect sense that he'd want to be a part of this new frontier of Virtual / Augmented Reality whose potential for transformation in society is so huge that it cannot even be predicted at this stage.
If there were any doubts about Facebook's intentions to bet big on VR (other than the acquisition of Oculus), this reinforces the idea that it's really serious and not just for "fun" purposes. Let's see if Google reacts to this, as the failure of Google Glass and bet on Android's DayDream seem to be a bit lacking. But, maybe they'll have Magic Leap as a trump card ... if indeed it will be as revolutionary as they've made us believe.
Let's see what real stuff the world of virtual reality will have to amaze us this year...