While Facebook is in the process of trying to catch every internet user in its web, it seems that CEO Mark Zuckerberg is trying to catch every Pokémon. The 32-year-old CEO, who would have been in his early teens when the first Pokémon games hit the US, said on today’s earnings call that he, “like, everyone else, am enjoying Pokémon Go.”
The augmented-reality (AR) game has become an international sensation, topping app download charts across the world. And apparently between running one of the most valuable companies in the world, literally running all the time, and building a real-life version of the artificial assistant from Iron Man, Zuckerberg has found some time to catch a few Pokémon. Answering a question from an analyst on today’s earnings call, Zuckerberg used the game to explain how he—rather like Apple CEO Tim Cook did yesterday—sees augmented reality playing a part in the company’s future:
And you know, I think the biggest thing we can take away from this we’re very invested in augmented reality, in addition to virtual reality, is that the phone is probably going to be the mainstream consumer platform that a lot of these AR features first become mainstream rather than glasses form factor that people will wear on their face. So I think we’re seeing this in a number of places, whether it’s location through Pokemon or some of the face filter activity. I referenced the MSQRD app that we acquired earlier in my remarks. That’s a kind of a fun way to augment you know, the social experience that you’re having with someone. I think that there’s a big opportunity to build out that platform and a lot more functionality around that, and you know, one of the big themes that we’re talking about here is becoming video first, right, and as people look for richer and richer ways to express them themselves, you know, just like people in the past just shared a lot of text and photos on Facebook, we think that in the future more of that is going to be video and more of these augmented-reality tools I think are going to be more of an important part of delivering that experience and making that fun to use and expressive as it can be.
Facebook is already heavily invested in virtual reality with Oculus, a VR company it purchased in 2014 for $2 billion. Zuckerberg has said that he sees VR as “the next computing platform,” and the next big thing after videos that will come to dominate Facebook feeds in the relatively near future. It’s betting big that the future of social media involves interacting with friends in more personal, and yet still very digital, ways. Facebook also recently announced that it’s bringing Snapchat-like filters to Facebook Live videos, suggesting the company has started to dip its toes into AR as well. (Facebook reportedly tried to buy Snapchat for $3 billion in 2014, but was rebuffed.)
It seems, at least in some capacity, that the future of Facebook is even more social, and a lot more interactive. It’s unclear whether it will involve any pocket monsters.