Moments ago at Oculus Connect 3, Mark Zuckerberg gave a very brief look at a prototype standalone VR headset that Oculus and Facebook are collaborating on. But the way Zuckerberg presented it was very familiar; it was basically a direct callback to Steve Jobs' introduction of the original iPad in 2010. The pitch is identical: something magnificent that fits between lightweight mobile devices and powerful PC environments.
Behind Zuckerberg on stage was a slide showing Samsung's mobile Gear VR on one side, and the more powerful, PC-tethered Oculus Rift on the other. The thing that VR needs to reach mass adoption, Zuck said, is something in the middle: a powerful piece of hardware more versatile than the powered-by-smartphone Gear VR, but something without the constraints of the Rift.
And the description below each device couldn't have any been any closer to Jobs' iPad intro. Below the Gear VR, the slide read "mobile" and below the Rift was "PC." Welp...
"The question has arisen, lately, is there room for a third category of device in the middle?" asked Jobs in 2010. "Those devices are going to have to be far better at doing some key tasks." Of course, Zuckerberg wasn't introducing a tablet; he (barely) teased a new VR device. The wording was very similar, however. "We believe that there is a sweet spot between these," he said, describing the coming hardware as "a standalone virtual reality product category that is high quality, and that is affordable, and that you can bring out with you into the world." But again, whatever gadget Zuckerberg is envisioning for the masses remains far off. "We have a demo; we don't have a product yet."
Jobs' iPad presentation doesn't carry the same iconic stature as the stage show that accompanied his introduction of the first iPhone, but whether intentional or not, Zuckerberg definitely channeled it today.