Facebook, the failed turn in the metaverse

Sad birthday for Facebook. On October 28, the group led by Mark Zuckerberg announced the name change of the group which has Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp. He became Meta, to score her turn to the metaversethis set of technologies that allow access to fully immersive virtual worlds.

A year later, the name is still trying to establish itself in people’s minds. But above all, the strategy aimed to do Facebook the new frontier of the metaverse is trying to convince users, and beyond that, investors. In one year, the capitalization of the stock market giant – which reached $1,000 billion in September 2021 – has been divided by three, forcing the former giant to reduce its sails, with a workforce of 84,000 people, which can be lowered slightly. next months.

Metaverse identified as the future of the Internet

However, Facebook is convinced of this; with its immersive experiences offering a second life to internet users, metaverse will be the future of the internet. Therefore, the need to position itself in virtual and augmented reality technologies, in order to repeat in the metaverse what has made social networks successful so far: user addiction and monetization with past advertisers on the site.

In 2014, the group acquired Oculus, a specialist in virtual reality headsets for video games. Six years later, he presents The Facebook horizon, the beta version of his new 3D universe, accessible via glasses. But the rush really happens with name changeand the announcement in October 2021 of a mammoth $10 billion investment plan to grow Facebook Reality Labs, its virtual and augmented reality research and development division.

21 billion already invested

Except that despite the 21 billion dollars swallowed in the last few years in the metaverse, the success is not there. Sales of virtual reality headsets have not exploded as expected. And above all, Meta failed to populate its platform Worlds of the Horizon. While he hoped to conquer half a million active users by the end of the year, he had to revise his target, with 280,000 registered users.

“To launch this type of technology, companies rely on what are called early adopters, tech-savvy customers. Facebook’s mistake was to reveal its platform too soon, when it only looked like a draft. As a result, forward-thinking influencers didn’t embrace the concept at all. deciphers Daniel Ichbia, specialist in new technologies and author of a biography of Mark Zuckerberg.

The Horizon platform is considered very disappointing

Launching in 2021 in the United States and summer 2022 in France, Worlds of the Horizon indeed, it has created a great deal of frustration and provoked the ridicule of users who judge the virtual universe of Facebook – still featuring avatars without legs – childish and old-fashioned.

According to the media thresholdMeta would even try to convince his teams to spend time in Horizon. “The truth is, if we don’t like it, how can we expect our users to like it? », Vishal Shah, the group’s vice president of metaverse activities, recently confessed. Shortly before, Vivek Sharma, the boss of Horizon, left the ship in the middle of a storm, again proof of the difficulties of the group.

Admittedly, the return to the metaverse alone does not explain the former digital giant’s difficulties. Amid criticism of its algorithms accused of supporting anti-democratic movements, loss of usersnow more attracted by competing platforms like TIK Tokor even Apple’s recent decision to block apps’ access to iPhone owners’ personal data, calling into question its business model… bad news has continued to pile up for Facebook, with financial results as a result: for the quarter of In the third quarter of 2022, the group announced a net profit down 52% ($4.4 billion), causing a further drop in Meta’s share price.

What future for the metaverse in general?

But fundamentally the question remains: as such, does the metaverse really have a future outside of video games? In the 2000s, the game Second life it was already attracting crowds, without succeeding in imposing this parallel universe. In Facebook’s wake, a host of tech, luxury and retail companies have invested heavily in the metaverse ($117 billion invested as of 2021 according to McKinsey).

with war in ukraine, this craze has died down a bit. Without definitively burying the prospects of the metaverse. In a recent report submitted to the government, several experts encouraged France to position itself in this technology of the future.

“Today virtual reality headsets, which are still very expensive, remain one of the main Achilles heels of the metaverse”, notes Daniel Ichbia. Moreover, the metaverse is difficult to develop without the widespread adoption of 6G. It would not currently be able to get millions of people interacting in the same online space.

However, in the digital world, it is always dangerous to indulge in predictions. In 1989, five years before Microsoft founder Bill Gates became the richest man in the world, Windows was seen as an insignificant…

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