Michael Hillman, who had been working at Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) for about one and a half decades, has been poached by Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) to become the chief of hardware for Oculus VR. At Apple, Hillman occupied senior roles in both design and engineering. According to information on his LinkedIn profile, he is credited with helping in the development of iMac computer.
Facebook has ambitious plans of mainstreaming virtual reality and Hillman’s experience will be vital in that aspect. In a job listing that advertised the position that Hillman eventually filled, some of the responsibilities for the hardware chief included setting the strategy and executing the consumer product roadmap.
Information obtained from an Oculus spokesperson, Andrea Schubert, indicates that Hillman will be working closely with the chief operating officer of Oculus, Hans Hartmann, who was previously at Fitbit in a similar role.
The hiring of Hillman follows another high profile recruitment – that of Hugo Barra who previously worked at Xiaomi Corp. Though Barra hasn’t begun in his new position at Oculus, it is understood that his main responsibility will involving leading virtual reality efforts for Facebook. The chief executive officer of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, has previously said that he sees virtual reality becoming the next big thing after smartphones. Some of the firms that Facebook is facing stiff competition from with regards to virtual reality hardware includes Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and HTC Corp.
Untethered VR hardware
Currently, Oculus’ portfolio of products is small and includes its Rift headset. The challenge for the VR firm now, if virtual reality is to gain more acceptance, is to ensure that the headset becomes independent and no longer needs to be tethered to a desktop computer. Already, Oculus has developed a prototype for such an untethered headset but there are no plans to release such a product anytime soon.
Facebook will also be required to continue to reduce the prices of the headsets in order to effectively compete with Microsoft’s and Sony Corp (ADR) (NYSE:SNE)’s gaming systems.
In Monday’s trading session, shares of Facebook slightly edged downwards by 0.01% to close the day at $140.32 a share.