2023-01-16 17:46:02

At a virtual reality event on October 28, 2021, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would change its name to Meta, to reflect the company’s broader ambitions. Zuckerberg had declared that they were working on building an advanced version of the internet called the “metaverse”, which was meant to be a step forward from the Facebook we knew in 2004. The idea was to extend the socialization aspect and introduce doing business with colleagues.
True, in the past few years, there has been a lot of hype around the metaverse and what it may offer in the technological world. And this goes beyond pastime activities like playing at a no deposit bonus casino.
When it comes to science fiction, the "metaverse" is a hypothetical simulation of the Internet as a distinct, ubiquitous, and deeply engaging virtual world, expedited by the use of VR and AR headsets. As for vernacular usage, "metaverse" is a chain of 3D virtual worlds that concentrate on social connection.

But how feasible is its implementation? There have been quite a number of naysayers, Xbox CEO Phil Spencer being one of them, and he has raised valid points for taking such a stance.

Unflattering Comments About Facebook’s Metaverse From Top Tech Leaders

After various leaders were asked to give their definition of Facebook’s metaverse at the WSJ Tech Live Conference held in October 2022, a series of unflattering remarks followed. Phil Spencer described it as a “poorly built videogame” and contrasted it with the “compelling worlds” built by amazingly capable video game creators. Whereas these are worlds “we want to go spend time in”, for Spencer, the metaverse built by Zuckerberg is simply “not where I want to spend most of my time.” Despite his hard-hitting remarks, the Xbox CEO did acknowledge that the concept of the metaverse might change, claiming that it is still premature to generalize about it: “I tease a little bit in [saying it’s] a bad video game. I just think we’re early.”

Spencer was far from the only one to call out Zuckerberg’s vision. For Snap CEO Evan Spiegel, the metaverse is like “living inside a computer.” He further remarked: “The last thing I want to do when I get home from work at the end of a long day is live inside a computer.”

Similarly, Apple’s SVP of worldwide marketing Greg Joswiak didn’t have anything positive to say, and simply stated that the metaverse is “a word I’ll never use.” Disney CEO Bob Chapek, answered on the same lines, saying that the company tends “not to use” the word metaverse “because for us, that’s a big, broad term. For us, it’s next-generation storytelling.”

Meanwhile, other leaders also didn’t mince their words and expressed their letdown with the works being done by Meta to the metaverse technology. All Turtles CEO Phil Libin outrightly described himself as a “hater” of the metaverse, claiming that the “Facebook vision of the metaverse is… so stupid it makes me sad. It accomplishes nothing. The reason is hard to define because it’s that stupid like this should be a red flag.”

A Red Flag: Meta’s Losses

Meta lost $9.4 billion in the first nine months of 2022 on its metaverse efforts, with losses expected to “grow significantly year-over-year” in 2023. This downfall even led some of Meta’s supporters to urge it to hold its horses and rethink its shift in strategy.

One of Meta’s shareholders, wrote to Zuckerberg: “People are confused by what the metaverse even means. If the company were investing $1-2B per year into this project, then that confusion might not even be a problem.” Alarmed by the current pace of spending, he urged Zuckerberg to “cap its metaverse investments to no more than $5B per year with more discrete targets and measures of success.”

Skepticism About Meta’s Quest 2 Headset

Skeptical eyebrows are also being raised about the eventuality of people wearing Meta’s headsets and AR glasses for the vast majority of their day. David Lindlbauer, an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University who leads the school’s Augmented Perception Lab, remarked: “I’m not sure this is going to translate to end-user consumers any time soon.” Using a headset for perhaps an hour a day, was thought to be realistic but the verdict of the assistant professor is that “I think we haven’t hit the sweet spot yet of something I want to wear all day.”

Still, Zuckerberg himself is optimistic about his vision of Meta: “I think people are going to look back decades from now and talk about the importance of the work that was done here.”

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