The world let out a collective gasp of confusion as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Meta. Meta, he explained, would be the new name of his enormous tech empire, supposedly ushering us into a new era of technological evolution. He also introduced the Metaverse, a sort of virtual reality (VR) collective world that will allow people to digitally interact in exciting new ways.
Or at least that’s what the Metaverse appears to be. Most don’t fully understand what exactly this proposed technology revolution is, or what purpose it’s supposed to serve. Needless to say, when you’ve put your mega-corporation $18 billion in the hole it’s not a good sign when the world isn’t even sure what you’re trying to sell.
Shooting For A New Future
When the world health crisis hit everyone had to rapidly adapt. Social distancing meant a new way of life, with those accustomed to going into an office having to make other plans. Yes, working from home became the new norm, in turn making video conferencing, virtual meetings, and other such workarounds essential.
This rapid adaptation was the primary motivation for Zuckerberg and his Metaverse. According to him he wanted to create VR that gave users a true sense of presence, ultimately making digital communication as close to reality as possible.
He also intends, in the future, on advancing augmented reality (AR) to a point that it can fit neatly into everyday life. As he explains it, he wants a world where a group can sit down at a table and play cards, while simultaneously making an Australian Open bet live as a group, all without anyone having to leave their own home.
But aren’t these all things everyone can already do? Video conferencing, online casinos, Netflix and online sportsbooks all already exist. Sure, none of them offer advanced VR or AR, but each still provides adequate service. So why the need for the new technology, as cool as it all seems?
Perhaps not even Zuckerberg himself can answer that question. Reality Labs, the segment of Meta working on the tech, has so far spent an absurd $18 billion on developing the needed technology. This is against revenue of only $4 billion. More to the point, now that the world health crisis has passed, most have returned to work and their usual social schedules. Virtually no one is talking about the Metaverse, or showing any real interest in it. Not a particularly good sign.
A Catastrophic Failure
The bottom line is that the Metaverse is a failure. It was indicated that Horizon World, the core product of the Metaverse, has barely gained any interest. The company goal was to have half a million users in Horizon World by the end of 2022. The current number stands at a shaky 200k. Most telling is that the majority of new users don’t return after an initial visit.
At present Zuckerberg seems determined to forge ahead with his development, but this may just be a case of a billionaire refusing to admit that he’s made a catastrophic, expensive error.