Will Facebook win the Metaverse race?

Will Facebook win the Metaverse race?

Metaverse News
June 16, 2022 by Diana Ambolis
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Facebook, the social networking behemoth, and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg have lofty goals to rule the next great thing in computing. Still, other digital behemoths are better positioned to make the hype a reality. Did you hear what I said? Facebook Inc. or META will evolve into a metaverse firm. After a frenzy of interviews
Will Facebook win the Metaverse race?

Facebook, the social networking behemoth, and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg have lofty goals to rule the next great thing in computing. Still, other digital behemoths are better positioned to make the hype a reality.

Did you hear what I said? Facebook Inc. or META will evolve into a metaverse firm. After a frenzy of interviews and announcements over the past few weeks, that’s the story its management wants everyone to believe. It’s a story that aims to position the social media behemoth at the forefront of one of technology’s most daring ideas. I’m not convinced.

But first, let’s define the metaverse. In his 1992 dystopian novel “Snow Crash,” sci-fi novelist Neal Stephenson coined the word to describe a virtual realm where individuals interact with one another using user-controlled avatars. Matthew Ball, a venture capitalist, has written extensively on what he believes are the key characteristics of a metaverse, including a fully functional economy, real-time persistence (no pauses), and the interoperability of digital “belongings” like clothing across numerous platforms. Here’s how I’d break it down: Consider it a futuristic version of an always-on multiplayer video game in which you can play, socialize, and even run a business in a realistic computer-generated environment.

When Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg told The Verge in an interview that his company is going to invest aggressively to become a big metaverse player, he said it would be a place where you feel fully present with others when sharing virtual experiences. He started the hype cycle. Days later, Facebook announced the formation of a new metaverse product group under its virtual-reality business, telling the press that the initiative would require hiring hundreds of additional personnel. Then, on its results call this week, Facebook stated that its Facebook Reality Labs, where the metaverse company is housed, will spend billions of dollars annually.

Also, read – Why Facebook is delving into the Metaverse?

We’ve heard similar statements from Zuckerberg in the past. He stated in 2014 that the company’s $2 billion acquisition of virtual-reality firm Oculus would enable immersive virtual experiences where you feel “present in another location with other people.” In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek two years later, he predicted that virtual reality would create another reality and that Facebook would commit a significant amount of money to make that happen. Does this ring a bell?

The reality of Facebook’s VR history reveals a different picture. Has the corporation progressed since it acquired Oculus seven years ago? Not at all. The Quest 2, the company’s most recent VR headset, has sold around 4 million copies in the United States, although it isn’t much more advanced than the original. In reality, smaller companies such as Valve Index have outperformed Oculus’ technology in terms of fidelity.

Advanced semiconductors and software tools are two important components that organizations will need to take advantage of any prospective metaverse’s opportunities. On either front, Facebook is lacking. It highlights Facebook’s strategy weaknesses. Qualcomm Inc.’s off-the-shelf chips are used in the company’s VR devices. That’s not going to suffice. When Apple Inc. releases its virtual-reality headsets, it is likely to use internally built CPUs that provide superior performance and considerably superior user experiences. It isn’t going to be a competition.

On the software side, so-called programming engines and digital object-creation tools will be critical to the operation and filling of any metaverse’s virtual environments. Once again, Facebook is behind Epic Games Inc. by a wide margin. From 100-person battle royale games to music concerts, Epic’s Unreal Engine is providing the foundation for big multiplayer experiences. Nvidia Corp. has also announced the availability of a software development platform that will be used to create virtual world simulations using the company’s graphics technologies. Even if Facebook invests billions, replicating the specific skills these semiconductor and software companies have built over decades will be practically difficult.

Who else is set to succeed in the metaverse if it isn’t Facebook? Apple, Epic, and Nvidia are well-positioned, given their relative technological supremacy in these hardware and software domains. And when apps and gadgets run on their billion-user platforms, the two primary mobile operating systems — Apple’s iOS and Alphabet’s Google Android — will undoubtedly profit.

First and foremost, there is the question of trust. When Facebook bought Oculus, the startup’s co-founder promised consumers that they wouldn’t have to have a Facebook account or be bombarded with in-headset adverts. Both of those pledges were broken by Facebook. Also, perhaps a tech behemoth with a financial incentive to spread the most interesting divisive content isn’t the best fit for a healthy metaverse. Finally, it’s possible that it’s a good thing Facebook doesn’t appear to be on the verge of conquering the metaverse.