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Facebook高管訪談:增強現實、虛擬現實和未來趨勢

Danielle Abril 2019年11月12日

博斯沃思認為,如果Facebook不利用這些新技術領路,就會錯失為Facebook用戶開發量身打造的新一代硬件的良機。

當Facebook的首席執行官馬克·扎克伯格決定認真看待增強現實和虛擬現實的那一刻,他找到了他最信任的高管、昵稱為“博茲”的安德魯·博斯沃思。

博斯沃思曾經帶領Facebook實現過一些重大突破。他在Facebook核心的移動廣告策略及商業招牌News Feed的面世上扮演了關鍵角色。作為扎克伯格在哈佛大學時的助教,博斯沃思如今負責提高增強現實和虛擬現實對普通用戶的吸引力,他從2018年8月起開始執掌這個部門。

博斯沃思的團隊主管Oculus虛擬現實頭盔、Portal視頻會議中心和智能手機的增強現實濾鏡等產品。他們還在開發增強現實眼鏡等長期產品,計劃用其實現打電話和直播視頻等功能。此外,該團隊還在研究可以讓用戶利用腦電波控制設備的未來主義技術。

迄今為止,這個項目還沒能產生太大收益。公司透露2018年的硬件銷售額為8.25億美元,其中包括支付和其他費用。這在公司整體558億美元的銷售額中顯得微不足道。

但無論如何,Facebook仍然在繼續向博斯沃思的團隊投入大量資金。團隊在舊金山灣區至少有4,000名員工,還有一些員工分布在全球各地。

博斯沃思認為,如果Facebook不利用這些新技術領路,就會錯失為Facebook用戶開發量身打造的新一代硬件的良機。

以下內容因篇幅或清晰度原因有所刪改。

《財富》:您調入增強現實/虛擬現實部門背后有什么故事?

博斯沃思:兩年前的7月,我在休第二個孩子的陪產假。馬克當時在我家里,抱著我三四周大的女兒。他突然說:“你應該去做增強現實/虛擬現實。”我說:“首先你得把我女兒放下,這個人質太重要了。”

我有些懷疑論者的特質。這些是很艱難的挑戰,要花費很長時間。我說:“好吧,我會考慮的。”他說:“我猜你可以考慮一下。”

是什么讓你下定了決心?

我在休陪產假前負責的那支團隊已經運轉良好。另一個原因就是馬克對投資水平十分重視,所以我們就去做了。

當時,公司在這個方向甚至都沒有一整支團隊,而是由不同隊伍拼湊成的雜牌軍。我在接下這一角色后,開始著手整合它們。我們有點像在倒退,從我認為這些技術在投資方面的重點所在開始。我們開發的虛擬現實不應該僅為游戲服務,而必須讓人們展開合作,重新定義人們的體驗和溝通方式。馬克同意我的看法。

考慮到Facebook在用戶隱私上的不良記錄,你認為公司向消費者銷售增強現實/虛擬現實產品時會不會更加困難?

作為一家機構,Facebook必須贏得人們的信賴。我們知道這點。不過整個行業都需要贏得人們的信賴。你要把產品放在人們的臉上。整個行業必須幫助人們理解這些(設備)擁有感應器。

在推廣新硬件上,你面臨的最大挑戰是什么?

最大的挑戰是讓消費者的反饋回路運轉起來——知道哪些對他們有用,哪些對他們沒用。你如果通過網頁和移動設備推出了軟件,幾乎立刻就能夠看到人們的使用情況。你可以迅速行動起來改善技術,讓它成為消費者想要的樣子。但在硬件領域,這個回路要慢得多。

你在增強現實/虛擬現實技術上與馬克的合作有多密切?

每天聯系,我確實有自主權。他對這項工作熱情很高,所以我們其實是在合作。我一周和他匯報幾次。各階段的理念和產品塑造都有他的功勞。他是團隊的成員之一。他不是以首席執行官的身份加入的。你得尊敬馬克的直覺,它在很長時間里都是一盞相當高效的指路明燈。

你對競爭有什么看法?

針對增強現實和虛擬現實的投資極多。技術專家越多,有人找到結合特色與軟件的途徑,為消費者創生價值的可能性就越高。有了這些平臺,我們就有空間促進人類的進一步交流。競爭也能夠讓我們從其他人的錯誤和成功中吸取經驗,反之亦然。

對于Facebook在增強現實/虛擬現實方面的努力感到懷疑的人,你有什么想說的?

我們可以用正在開展的工作向他們表明這項技術是真實的。人們或許不記得Facebook曾經做出過調整,以適應技術變革,最著名的一次是2012年向移動端的轉型。我們曾經是一家網頁公司。如今我們成功地利用移動平臺將人們聯系在一起。(增強現實/虛擬現實)是另一次……平臺變革。Facebook在改變消費者觀念上一貫表現出色。

對于增強現實眼鏡這類新型硬件產品,公司的投入有多少?

我們做了很大的努力。一直以來,馬克考慮周到的一點在于他會組建一支足夠規模的團隊來完成目標。如果人手不足,你只是在浪費每個人的時間。我們在這個愿景上密切協作,試圖打造一支規模合適的團隊來實現這個項目。

對于未來,人們應該知道些什么?

我們的抱負比表面看起來更加宏大。我們以Portal和Oculus為豪,但它們只是我們目標中的一小部分,我們希望努力開創以人類溝通為核心的新一代平臺。(財富中文網)

譯者:嚴匡正

When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg got serious about augmented and virtual reality, he turned to one of his most trusted executives, Andrew “Boz” Bosworth.

Bosworth had already led some of Facebook’s biggest developments. He played pivotal roles in debuting the company’s core News Feed, its mobile ad strategy, and its commerce tab. Now Bosworth, formerly Zuckerberg’s teaching assistant at Harvard, is tasked with making AR and VR appealing to average consumers. He took charge of the unit in August 2018.

Bosworth’s team oversees products including Oculus virtual reality headsets, Portal video conferencing hubs, and augmented reality filters for smartphones. The unit is also working on longer-term projects like AR glasses that, when introduced, are supposed to do things like make phone calls and live stream what user’s see. It’s also working on futuristic technology that would let users control devices using brain signals.

For now, the push isn't bringing in much money. In 2018, the company said it had $825 million in revenue from hardware sales, along with payments and other fees. That only represents a sliver of Facebook’s overall $55.8 billion in sales.

Regardless, Facebook continues to fork out a lot of money for Bosworth’s team. At least 4,000 people work for it in the Bay Area, plus more elsewhere around the world.

Bosworth argues that if Facebook didn’t lead the way with these new technologies, it would miss its chance to create a new generation of hardware specifically designed for Facebook users.

The following has been edited for length and clarity:

Fortune: What’s the backstory to your move to the AR/VR unit?

Bosworth: Two years ago in July, I was on paternity leave with my second child. Mark was over at the house holding my daughter, who at that point was three or four weeks old. Kind of out of the blue he said, “You should come work on AR/VR.” I said, “First, you have to give my daughter back. That’s too much leverage.”

I was a bit of a skeptic. These are hard challenges, and it’s going to take a long time. I said, “Well, I’ll think about it.” And he said, “I guess you can think about it.”

What convinced you?

The team I had in place while I was on paternity leave was executing really well. The second was Mark was really serious about the investment level, and so we went for it.

At the time, there wasn’t a single team. It was a collection of different teams. When I took the role, we consolidated the pieces into one. We kind of worked backward from what I thought was important about these technologies to get to the scope of the investment. This can’t be VR only for gaming. It has to be for people to collaborate, to remap how people feel and connect. Mark agreed with me.

Do you think it will be harder for Facebook to sell consumers AR/VR products given its spotty history with user privacy?

As an organization, Facebook has to earn people’s trust. We know that. But the entire category has to earn people’s trust. You’re putting a thing on someone’s face. The entire category has to do this work to help people understand that these [devices] have sensors.

What are your greatest challenges as it relates to introducing new hardware?

The hardest challenge is getting a consumer feedback loop going—knowing what’s working and not working for them. Coming from web and mobile, you put software out and get to see people use it almost immediately. You could move so quickly in advancing the technology and making it what consumers want it to be. In hardware, that flip is much slower.

How closely do you work with Mark on AR/VR?

Day to day, I do have autonomy. He is enthusiastic about this work, so we really are partnering. I’m talking to him multiple times a week. He’s at every stage helping shape the ideas, shape the products. He’s a member of the team. He’s not coming in as the CEO. You respect Mark’s intuition. It has been a pretty effective guiding light for a long time.

What’s your take on the competition?

There’s a tremendous amount of investment in augmented reality and virtual reality. The more technologists, the more likely it is someone will find the combination of features and software and form factor that unlocks the value for consumers. Once these platforms exist, that’s room for us to foster greater human connection. It also allows us to learn from others’ mistakes and successes, as they will from ours.

What do you say to skeptics of the progress of Facebook’s AR/VR efforts?

It’s on us to show them with the work we’re doing that the tech is real. People forget that Facebook has adapted to technological change, most famously in 2012 with the shift to mobile. We were a website company. Now we’re successfully using the mobile platform to connect people. [AR/VR] is another … platform shift. Facebook has a good track record of changing the consumer landscape.

How much investment is going into new hardware products like AR glasses?

It’s a big effort. One of the things that Mark has always been thoughtful about is putting together a large enough team to accomplish the goal. If there are not enough people, you’re just wasting everyone’s time. We work close together on the vision and try to build a team that’s the right size to accomplish that.

What should people know about the future?

The scope of our ambition is so much bigger than what’s on the surface. We’re proud of Portal and Oculus, but those represent only a portion of what we’re trying to accomplish, which is to pioneer a generation of platforms that put human connection at the center.

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