But how long can such investments continue under the current circumstances? For all its expenditure and labor, the initial version of a product like Worlds was ridiculed; for example, when Zuckerberg showed a screenshot of a very unremarkable avatar, or when Meta was forced to admit that it didn’t know how to When tracking people’s legs.
Early impressions of the Meta Quest Pro, a very expensive device that attempted to reinvent the Quest 2 for work, weren’t positive either.
Meta is making progress toward its goals, but slowly, while losing a lot of money. It could take us a decade before we know for sure that the kind of system it’s developing has users, and in the meantime, Reality Labs is losing about $14 billion a year and dragging down Meta’s stock, which is down about 70% in 2022.
Putting cash into extreme long-term bets isn’t great for investor relations when your stock is already down. In a very public complaint, longtime Meta investor Altimeter CEO Brad Gerstner called on the company to limit Metaverse spending to no more than $5 billion a year.
“Even by Silicon Valley standards, the estimated $US100B+ investment in an unknown future is outsized and dire,” he wrote in an open letter in October.
There have also been various reports of unrest within Meta’s product development team, suggesting that Zuckerberg’s vision for the Metaverse isn’t necessarily reflected throughout the organization.
insiders told New York Times Some employees referred to the metaverse project as “MMH” work, meaning “make Mark happy,” and when Zuckerberg ordered all meetings to take place in Horizon, many had to scramble to buy and install their own headsets.The sources also posted edge Meta execs wondered in an internal memo why more employees weren’t actively embracing the metaverse.
“If we don’t like it, how can we expect our users to like it,” vice president Vishal Shah asked in a memo.
Recent programming legend John Carmack — co-creator of the hit video game doom In the 90s, and joined Oculus as CTO in 2013 – left the company with an internal note complaining that Meta was “extremely ineffective”.
It’s worth noting that despite the name change and investment, Reality Labs and the metaverse don’t make up Meta’s full focus. It remains a very profitable company that has acquired or developed advanced capabilities in artificial intelligence, 3D development, augmented reality, and virtual reality. It’s capable of taking Metaverse development out of public view for years and looking for short-term moneymakers elsewhere, though that would certainly push its timeline even further out.
In the meantime, other companies may step in and start laying the groundwork for what might one day be the Metaverse, even if that’s not what Meta was planning. Apple, for example, is expected to launch some kind of headset in 2023 that can draw on its years of experience developing augmented reality.
Microsoft is starting to use Meta tech in its enterprise suite to enhance the immersive work-from-home experience. Companies like Roblox and Epic continue to build entire worlds in video games, combining various other media with persistent online virtual spaces, an approach that could easily be adapted for non-gaming purposes in the Metaverse.
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