WhatsApp may have seemed expensive at $19 billion, but at least it was easy to see the fit with Facebook.
Oculus was a gadget company that didn't even have a gadget in the market yet. For the deal to make the remotest sense for Facebook, the final product had better be something way cooler than just leaning back and watching a movie.
The first shoe just dropped.
Yes, drones. Parrot -- which is a profitable public company listed in Paris reaching 73 million euros in revenue for its quarter ended in December -- has shown its next-generation drone, which can be used with the Facebook-Oculus immersive goggles.
The new Parrot drone is called BeBop. It's a tiny remote-controlled helicopter that weighs only 380 grams (0.85 pounds) and includes a video camera. It is basically a remote-controlled spy-camera in the air.
The Parrot BeBop done can fly for 12 minutes up to 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) away, and is controlled via WiFi from your Google (GOOG) or Apple (AAPL) iOS smartphone or tablet. The camera has an image stabilization feature to ensure that you don't feel sea-sick watching the image.
If the drone approaches the outer edge of WiFi connectivity (up to 2 miles), it will fly back. In fact, you can simply press a button at any time and it will come back. Very handy!
You can even program a complete flight plan, basically putting the Parrot BeBop drone on autopilot, allowing it to complete an end-to-end mission with you just watching the camera input. And therein resides the genius of this drone.
The Parrot BeBop has a 14 megapixel video camera with a 180-degree fish-eye lens. One way of describing it is that it's got the eyesight of an insect. What you see when you operate the drone from your Android or iOS device is what this insect (drone) sees. It is fascinating and thrilling.
While you may operate the drone manually from your iOS or Android, you could also view insect's vision from the Facebook Oculus immersive goggles. Now that truly makes you feel like an insect in the sky.
Parrot did not release a price or exact timing of the BeBop drone. It is believed that it will be available toward the end of this year.
The Parrot BeBop will be sold both with and without a gaming-style "holster-controller" into which you would slide your tablet. That enables finer flight controls, and perhaps most importantly a longer WiFi range. The reason for that is that this so-called "SkyController" has a very large and sophisticated antenna array. Without it, you would most likely be unable to fly anywhere near the 2 kilometer limit.
One kind of wonders what the legitimate civilian purpose is of a product such as this, if it's not spying on people. Perhaps a real estate agent filming a property? Perhaps filming a low-budget movie? If I saw one of these buzzing over my property, I would pull out a shotgun and blow it out of the sky immediately.
That actually brings me to the more interesting use case of the product. Forget civilians. How about the military or the Central Intelligence Agency? Imagine a scaled-up version of this drone, outfitted with a pistol and silencer. It would be a very effective assassination tool.
I can see it right now: "Mr. Bond, there is no longer any need for you to get dressed up in a tuxedo and hang out at the Monaco casino for Dr. Evil to show up. Just put on these Facebook Oculus glasses, lean back in your lounge chair, program the drone to sneak up on Dr. Evil, and then press fire when you're close enough. Bam!"
Military and intelligence purposes aside, the synergies with Facebook are becoming clear. Wouldn't you want to be able to view, inside Facebook, what the drone operator is able to see through the camera?
People seem fascinated recording and sharing what they are seeing. From Instagram to selfies, Facebook is at the vanguard of capitalizing on this. A whole generation has become obsessed with telling people what they are doing and what they are seeing.
Drone-sharing is simply the latest dimension in this obsession to record everything that's going on, and sharing it. It could be a premium service on Facebook. Who wouldn't want to have a little insect flying around the neighborhood, spying on their fat neighbors hosing down their truck naked on a Sunday afternoon?
And what better way to view the spectacle than doing it leaned back in your lounge chair wearing Facebook Oculus immersive glasses? Your voyeurism and other perversions could be shared with as many of your Facebook friends as possible, yielding revenue opportunities for both the Oculus owner and Facebook alike.
Thinking one step ahead, once this product becomes popular some time in the next year, there will be a market for defense mechanisms. Think of it as a personal anti-aircraft radar.
The war between the major ecosystems would take on a whole new dimension. Microsoft (MSFT) made a big deal about "Scrooged" -- its view that Google is spying on you, and your emails specifically.
Being threatened by Facebook, Google, Apple and Microsoft could offer some sort of product detecting the presence of a drone, with or without an actual ability to shoot down the darn thing. Microsoft has a major hardware business these days, and the Kinect product seems a good one to start when it comes to detecting motion in the near airspace.
In Google's case, perhaps the newly acquired Nest team -- coincidentally at a price not too far from the Oculus acquisition -- could invent an improved version of its famed thermostat. Now it will be about not just measuring the temperature in the air, but also detecting a drone in the air.
Facebook's $2 billion Oculus acquisition seemed crazy. With the advent of this new Parrot BeBop drone, it seems like it could have been crazy like a fox.
At the time of submitting this article, the author was long Apple, Facebook and Google.
This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.