As Facebook plans for the future, VR looms large

Los Angeles Times 

When Google wanted people to know it was serious about virtual reality two years ago, it sent software developers attending its I/O conference home with Google Cardboard -- a cheap, build-it-yourself VR headset that developers could use with Samsung Galaxy smartphones. When Facebook wanted people to know it was serious about VR on Tuesday, it sent software developers attending its F8 conference -- all 2,600 of them -- home with Gear VR headsets, which retail at 99.99, and Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphones, which cost 598 apiece. Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg's announcement of the high-end swag was met with emphatic applause from the audience of developers, who packed an auditorium in San Francisco's Fort Mason Center to hear him detail the company's 10-year plan. The Gear VR may not rival the coveted, high-end virtual reality headset released last month by Oculus VR, which Facebook acquired in 2014 for 2 billion. But it was enough to drive the message home: VR will play a big role in Facebook's future -- and so will developers who embrace the medium.