As Facebook Horizon dominates the headlines, Darshan Shankar claims that "their vision is to own the next computing platform," no matter the cost.
There are many justifiable concerns about full Facebook-Oculus integration. Although most people by this point are numb to the fact that Facebook holds a shocking amount of information about us and has misused it in the past, others, including BigscreenVR CEO Darshan Shankur, are concerned about the effects the tech giant is having on competition in the relatively small VR industry.
In a series of tweets posted last week, Shankar claimed that Facebook had threatened to "crush" BigscreenVR if he and his developers did not join them. Bigscreen, a social VR application which allows users to watch movies with their friends in 3D, provides many of the same services Facebook would like to offer. Echoing another controversial story dominating the headlines, Shankar's rant even tagged and received a response from Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games. Sweeney is currently embroiled in a bitter legal battle with Apple, claiming the company's app store is an illegal monopoly.
However, the most egregious of these accusations are claims that Facebook has attempted to threaten and intimidate smaller VR developers. In an interview with the voicesofvr podcast, Shankar claims that companies in "e-commerce, productivity, media consumption, and social VR" have all been affected. Others have simply had their "features and functionality copied and cloned" by Facebook, or their entire industries stalled "because Facebook refuses to accept them onto their app store."
Discourses around Facebook's dodgy business practices are nothing new, and neither are these kinds of accusations. Mark Zuckerberg's testimony in front of the U.S. Senate attempted to prove that Facebook did not hold a monopoly, despite the fact he couldn't name a single competitor. With last week's bombshell blog post about Oculus and Facebook, many will be left wondering if this will just be more of the same. Shankar's tweets in full can be found here, and his interview on the voicesofvr podcast found here.