Meta’s head of global affairs was wheeled out this week to say the Metaverse is still going be a thing in the future, soon after Disney – once an exponent of this brave new virtual world – ditched its own plans. Nick Clegg, a former UK deputy prime minister who joined Meta in 2018, held a meeting via Meta’s Horizon Workrooms …
I thought you meant Zeerust, the place - a small town on the edge of the desert where time has stood still.
As featured in Herman Charles Bosman's stories.
As long as Meta continues to have positive cashflow, it will continue to do whatever the single controlling shareholder, Mark Zuckerberg wants. Investors were happy with this when they bought the shares, so why should it change.
Looking at Meta, it's now possible to see that this is what a copycat corporation looks like. Facebook itself was a copy of somebody else's idea, though the advertising and keep users addicted was probably all inhouse. But, while it was very lucrative, it wasn't very innovative. Since then, it has grown through acquistions of competitors in new markets: WhatsApp, Instagram, Oculus, etc. It's been very successful with users and both WhatsApp and Instagram; and Instagram (a combination of the "best bit" of FB and Twitter) even turns a decent profit. But they're still struggling to make money from the WhatsApp behemoth, while the developers have left. In the meantime other messengers, particularly Telegram but others as well, have developed apace, and TikTok has started creatively disrupting the eyeballs-glued-to-screen revenue stream. It has dabbled in crypto and other fashionable shit, stuff that even the famously experimental Google hasn't touched, but it has no real content strategy and no enterprise products with their lovely subscriptions. And it has no "superapp" to compete with those beloved in Asia. The Metaverse was supposed to change all that by being all things to all people, that being its biggest problem. To make money all you really have to do is one thing that other people want and can't get elsewhere. In a couple of years the Oculus deal will look even more like Microsoft's ill-fated purchase of some of Nokia's IP than it does now.
And then ChatGPT turned up and shows that instead of pissing money into the wind more shitty VR implementations, the El Dorado of perpetual entertainment was possible. Meta's AI stuff is still mainly at the ML level so either it buys the next OpenAI or it can watch its users be lost to the more interesting bots.
I hope the same soon becomes true of some of Silicon Valley's other one-trick
ponies unicorns: Twitter, Uber, AirBnB, et al.
I can't see a change of direction coming from Mark SugarMountain any time soon. He has one idea, and one idea only - a Meta walled garden - with Meta users wearing Meta VR systems logging into Meta servers and interacting with Meta's marketplace. Did I mention fun? No, I didn't. He's very stubborn and will just keep pushing this idea until he runs out of money or users, sorry, product.
He has one idea, and one idea only - a Meta walled garden
It just struck me - he's trying to recreate Compuserve or, latterly, AOL - walled garden systems with little access outside the ecosystem.
What he seems to have forgotten is that both of those withered away and, if they still exist, they are a very shrunken shadow of themselves.
We can always hope!
This might be true if they'd done some opinion polling, and by a gazillion to one chance they managed to contact only the miniscule subset of people whose vision of the future was being able to have a boring meeting with a virtual Nick Clegg in a nondescript virtual office.
It was supposed to be a world of infinite possibilities limited only by our imaginations, the journos could have been treated to a ride on the back of winged elephants through a land of rainbows and glittering jewels but instead they got evidence of the sheer lack of good ideas that Meta has for their big bet on their business.
I saw some vTubers using VR chat recently - they've basically built it into a working film studio. Controllable lighting, multiple mobile cameras (including cameras that the 'cast' can pick up and move around), positional audio, the works. Even has a control board like live broadcasts use to switch between cameras and the like.
Meta can presumably do better than free software modded by professional videogamers, but... no.
According to the WH The CHIPS and Science Act provides $52.7 billion for American semiconductor research, development, manufacturing, and workforce development. This includes $39 billion in manufacturing incentives, including $2 billion for the legacy chips used in automobiles and defense systems, $13.2 billion in R&D and workforce development,and...
That's only 1/3 of what was wasted on the metaverse in 2 years (and I'm not it will be used wisely - only pointing out the amount). And lets not talk about the rise and collapse of crypto, which from rise to fall pushed 2 trillion up the mountain and rolled it back down again, with nothing to show for it but corrupt politicians, obscene unearned arrogant conman wealth, a pile of broken fools. (Caveat - it helped lubricate the ransomware industry for sure, so there's that).
A flock of headless chickens could have done better.
A flock of headless chickens could have done better
As well as providing delicious meals later
(Depending on the skill of the cook of course! Just hope it's not cooked by Meta - half would be raw and infested with salmonella and the orher half would be burnt to a crisp)
To be fair, who doesn't? Meta's vision of the future is about the least-imaginative thing I've ever seen so many resources wasted on. People were doing more interesting things with VR in the '80s, and I say that as someone who has always been fundamentally unimpressed with VR.
I'm shaking my head sadly that there are people in this world who really think that we need 3D cat videos to truly live on the internet.
This whole mess is a project looking for a purpose, and it does NOT have one that I can see. Not by a long shot.
What a waste of billions of dollars that could be put to better use. :(
I just want to correct one thing in the article - Meta has not created a VR headset, they bought the highly successful VR headset company Oculus and are doing a splendid job of killing it because they demand a Facebook account in order to access games through it, and a large proportion of the gaming community has voted with their wallets and gone elsewhere. Pity as they actually used to make pretty good quality headsets for a reasonable price.
There really is a niche market for this stuff - second life is still going, after all. But it is very very small - certainly not big enough to justify the massive investment. There just isn't a killer app that would justify the expense of buying a headset, and the inevitable headaches that come with it.
Make it cool, make it free to access and maybe it will progress. But probably not.
The avatar created for the Meta exec was seated at a virtual wooden table dressed in a virtual blue blazer and white collared shirt …
I thought that this was going to be an April Fool that finished by reporting that the meeting was brought to an abrupt end by a software bug that made the virtual Clegg's nose grow ever longer, making reporters duck and swerve to avoid it.
Mine's the one with the enormous spare batteries in the pockets.