Facebook Inc. (FB) has been having a tough time with its virtual reality unit, Oculus, in recent weeks. The company has been forced to lower the price of its virtual reality headsets and one of its co-founders has left the company. But Facebook isn’t throwing in the towel in what it thinks will be the future way to go online, teaming up with the South Korean government to help drive adoption of the technology in the region.
According to the Korean Herald, Facebook will work with the Korea Innovation Center and the Institute for Information & Communications Technology Promotion to provide support for augmented reality and virtual reality startups in the region. Facebook will help the companies at the Facebook Korea office in southern Seoul as well as provide support in the U.S.
Under the deal, Facebook and the South Korean government agencies will choose 10 AR and VR startups in Korea and send their employees to Silicon Valley for a 10-week program in which they will learn about technologies related to AR and VR from engineers at Oculus. It marks the first time Oculus has part nere d with a foreign government in this capacity, noted the report. “From low-latency competitive gaming to HD video streaming, the Korean market has been the place where the rest of the world can look to see our online future,” said Alex Stamos, chief security officer at Facebook, when announcing the partnership in Seoul, according to the Herald. “Facebook gets such great insights from the people and partnerships in Korea, and why we use our experiences here to foresee how the global market will evolve in the future.”
Forced to Lower Prices
The push on the part of Facebook and its Oculus unit to drive more adoption of AR and VR gear comes at a time when the industry holds a lot of promise but is slow to take off in the U.S. In early March, Oculus announced it is slashing the price of its VR headset in an effort to expand its customer base. On its website, Oculus said it is selling Rift, its VR headset, and Touch, the motion controllers, for a package deal of $598, down from $798. Jason Ruben, VP of content at Oculus, said by slashing the price of the headset, Oculus is “brining PC[-based] VR to a broader audience.” Ruben argued that after receiving a lot of fanfare when it launched the Rift, there’s now a lot of misguided doom and gloom predicted for the VR marketplace. “We believe these stories are as overblown as the initial hype, and we still believe in VR’s unlimited long-term potential. Today we’re taking a material leap forward thanks to two things: price and timing,” he said at the time.
Late last month, Facebook announced Palmer Luckey, the co-founder of Oculus, was departing. While it’s not clear why he jumped ship, early sales of Oculus headsets, which Luckey helped pioneer, have fallen well short of expectations, due in part to delayed shipments and software bugs.