Facebook moves further away from the Oculus brand.
The company is changing the name of its Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality division to Facebook Reality Labs, a division that will include the company's AR / VR products under the Oculus name. Spark and Portal brands.
The title of the company's AR / VR research division was changed from Oculus Research to Facebook Reality Labs back in 2018. This department is now referred to as FRL Research.
Facebook has also announced that Oculus Connect, its annual virtual reality developer conference, will be renamed Facebook Connect and will be entirely virtual on September 16.
Oculus has had a very different existence within Facebook than other high profile acquisitions like Instagram or WhatsApp . The organization has been integrated more deeply into the core of the company in terms of both leadership and organizational structure. The entire AR / VR organization is led by Andrew Bosworth. A longtime manager of the company who is intimately familiar with CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
In a sense, the name change is just an indication that Facebook's product ambitions in the AR / VR world have grown since it acquired Oculus in 2014.
Facebook no longer just builds headsets, but also builds augmented reality glasses, adds AR software integrations to its core app and Instagram via Spark, and does a few more things with the Facebook portal.
In a different sense, adding the term “labs” to the end of a multi-year-old division of multiple products that you've spent billions of dollars building seems like Facebook doubling down on the idea of having everything in it is, (1) fairly experimental, and (2) doesn't add too much to the Facebook bottom line. This seems like the likely home for future Facebook moon shots.
The change is likely to annoy some Oculus users. Anecdotally, Facebook's reputation issues appear to be a particularly strong impact on PC gamers, so some Oculus fans are generally unhappy with news showing that the Oculus brand continues to fall under Facebook's core organization. Last week, the company announced that new users of Oculus headsets will need to sign in to the platform with their Facebook account and that they would be phasing out Oculus accounts over time. This change was challenged by insiders who believed Facebook would keep more distance between the central social app and its virtual reality platform.
At this point, Oculus is still the brand name of the VR headsets that Facebook sells, and the company claims the brand is going nowhere, but directly it seems that Facebook is aiming to bring the brand closer under its wing.