Facebook, which today changed its name to Meta just for fun, is making changes to its virtual reality division to match its rebrand. Meta CTO Andrew Bosworth announced that the company would transition away from the Oculus branding beginning in 2022.
“We all have a strong attachment to the Oculus brand, and this was a very difficult decision to make,” Bosworth wrote in a Facebook post. “While we’re retiring the name, I can assure you that the original Oculus vision remains deeply embedded in how Meta will continue to drive mass adoption for VR today.”
The Quest virtual reality headset isn’t actually going anywhere. Its name is changing to Meta Quest, and Facebook Reality Labs is being rebranded Reality Labs, Meta’s VR/AR division. The Oculus app will also be rebranded to Meta Quest. Facebook’s Portal division is getting the same treatment and will now be known as the Meta Portal. Rolls off the tongue, no?
But the name change isn’t all completely weird. Facebook is ditching the requirement to have a Facebook account to use Oculus, which is the least the company could do. It remains one of the major pain points of buying the $300 virtual reality headset.
Facebook will hang onto the Horizon branding for its socially-focused virtual reality experiences with the transition to Meta. Meta Horizon will encompass apps like Horizon Workrooms, Horizon Worlds, Horizon Friends, and Horizon Profiles.
Meta is now the umbrella for all Facebook’s products. But the name change seems more likely due to the headlines surrounding the Facebook brand. After all, it’s hard to trust a company to take you to the metaverse if it’s also a platform for horrific events to be live-streamed as they’re happening. If the Facebook Papers have taught us anything this weke, it’s that Facebook knows it has an image problem, even if it’s not quite sure how to solve it.
Dropping the Oculus brand is a baby step towards separating Facebook’s virtual reality hardware and software divisions from the divisive social network. But we’ll have to wait and see if it’ll be enough to convince non-Facebook users to step into the metaverse.