In 2021, Mark Zuckerberg rebranded the Facebook company. Instead of Facebook, it was rebranded as Meta Platforms (META), with a sudden shift in focus toward a three-dimensional virtual reality called the metaverse. However, since then, this metaverse has yet to materialize in concrete terms, and Meta’s efforts to turn the metaverse into a virtual reality have come at a significant cost. In 2022, Meta’s Reality Labs division, which focuses on virtual reality production, reported a $13.7 billion operating loss.
Zuckerberg and the Metaverse
Despite rumors of the metaverse’s demise, in April, Zuckerberg reaffirmed that building the metaverse was a long-term project, and Meta was committed to it. In an interview with Forbes on September 26, he reiterated his belief in the metaverse:
“Another thing that’s going to be very exciting to me is the metaverse. The ability to feel like you’re with another person as if you’re physically present no matter where you are in the world. In the near term, we’re doing this with VR so you can step into it and feel like you’re with another person. There’s something magical about that.”
The Future of the Metaverse
Zuckerberg’s long-term vision for virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) often focuses on high-tech glasses instead of bulky headsets that allow people to play in virtual environments. Zuckerberg noted that meta-enabled glasses were at least a few years away because “doing small things is hard.” However, he was confident that the technology would be available within less than a decade.
“In the near future, the digital world will evolve beyond something we access solely through screens and will increasingly integrate into our surroundings. It’s an intriguing thought experiment to consider how much of what surrounds you, such as art, games, media, could become holographic. Your chair may not be, your food may not be, but many of the things around us can often exist as holograms within it.”
Competitors Are Also Making Progress
Zuckerberg isn’t the only tech giant eyeing virtual worlds. In June, Apple announced its own mixed-reality headset called Vision Pro, which is planned to be released in early 2024 and priced at over $3,000.
“At Meta, the fundamental thing that I’m focused on is building the future of human connection. Giving people the ability to feel like they’re with another person no matter where in the world they are and, in the long term, giving people the ability not just to interact with other humans but also to interact with AIs they care about, businesses — that’s part of making the whole world more connected.”