Is the metaverse dead? Depends on who you ask

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    It was supposed to be the Internet of the future.

    In 2021, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg argued that the Metaverse would be “a tangible internet where you don’t just see it, you put yourself in it.”

    His dreams for this virtual reality product were ambitious and packed with features previously only conceived in wild Hollywood sci-fi movies. Next-generation augmented reality glasses, a series of holographic his devices that replace physical technology, and even the ability to teleport anywhere in the world. with this hologram.

    But two years later, after billions of dollars of investment and a major corporate rebrand, Meta and Zuckerberg couldn’t show anything about it. (Of course, that doesn’t take into account his widely criticized 2022 presentation on the developing Metaverse, which featured very poor graphics and legless digital avatars.)

    Now, as Zuckerberg announced at the end of February that Meta would be refocusing on generative artificial intelligence (AI), industry insiders have taken this to mean that the tech giant is quietly abandoning the metaverse for a product that can compete with the likes of ChatGPT. as a sign of priority. google and microsoft.

    media outlets Business Insider wrote a tribute to the technology last weeksaid, “Rest in peace Metaverse, we barely knew you,” noting that prominent companies like Disney, Microsoft and Walmart have pulled out of their Metaverse efforts.

    Why did Meta’s metaverse fail so badly?

    Philip May, a researcher and co-director of the Toronto Metropolitan University Social Media Lab, said the decline of the metaverse is due to a combination of factors: lack of buy-in and lack of technology to support the ideas.

    “After the marketing hype died down and some early adopters stepped in, people realized nothing existed yet,” he says. “Focus was rapidly shifting to AI rather than the metaverse.”

    Reality Labs, the team within Meta tasked with developing this virtual and augmented reality technology, has been draining money for months.the meta First Quarter 2023 Results Reported, Reality Labs Losing Nearly $4 Billion Even just the first three months of the year.

    “We continue to expect Reality Labs’ operating loss to increase year-over-year in 2023,” the report states. The report said the company had announced about 10,000 job cuts, many coming from teams focused on the metaverse, and said it was also restructuring. organization.

    “We are creating a new premier product group at Meta focused on generative AI to accelerate our work in this space,” Zuckerberg announced on Facebook on February 27. bottom. expressive tool. Longer term, we will focus on developing AI personas that can help people in many ways. We are exploring text (such as chats on WhatsApp and Messenger), images (such as creative Instagram filters and ad formats), video and multimodal experiences. ”

    Meta is choosing AI over the Metaverse, company says

    In response to Starr’s request for comment on the future of the Metaverse, a spokesperson shared Zuckerberg’s comments from the company’s first quarter results.

    “There’s a story unfolding that we’re somehow moving away from focusing on a vision of the metaverse. So I want to be the first to say that it’s not accurate,” said the tech world billionaire. The millionaire said. “We have been focusing on both AI and the metaverse for the last few years, and we will continue to focus on both.

    “Building the Metaverse is a long-term project, but the rationale has not changed and we will continue to work on it.”

    His statement seems to be in line with recent reports commissioned by Meta suggesting that the Metaverse may still break through eventually. A report released last week by consulting firm Deloitte estimated that the Metaverse could contribute $45.3 billion to $85.5 billion to Canada’s annual GDP by 2035, accounting for 1.3% to 2.4% of the country’s GDP. ing.

    But Mai said it is still unclear how Meta intends to proceed with the technology, which has faced multiple hurdles since its ceremonial launch amid the pandemic.

    “They wanted to sell their ideas and dreams and hope they had enough time to build that world,” Mai said. “We call it vaporware. There’s a lot of hype and buzz that we try to fill in as the story goes.”

    The metaverse already exists in the game world

    In a 2022 Ipsos survey of 21,005 adults in 29 countries, including Canada, Canadians were generally negative about new technology, with only three minutes saying they felt positive about it. was one of

    The report didn’t explore why the majority of Canadian respondents viewed the technology negatively, but Mai said it could stem from data and privacy concerns. suggested.

    “The proprietary companies that develop these end-use products don’t realize that many people, like myself, want to separate their personal and professional lives,” he says. “He wants one place where he can hang out with his friends and another where he can be with his family. I don’t want those worlds to collide.”

    Still, Mai said he believes the Metaverse has a future. He noted that it is already thriving in today’s gaming world, with games like Minecraft, Fortnite and Roblox boasting millions of users.

    Tweeting in response to Business Insider’s Metaverse obituary, Epic Games CEO and billionaire founder Tim Sweeney appears to mock the idea that the Metaverse is dead.

    Epic Games is a major investor in the Metaverse, Raises $2 billion in funding round from Sony Group Inc. and KIRKBIis the holding and investment company behind the Lego Group, supporting the development of the Metaverse.

    So while the technology may not be adopted by billions of users, perhaps as some had hoped, products that meet people’s needs will be popular, Mai said. Stated.

    “These virtual worlds will exist,” he concluded. “It’s going to be different than what Meta envisioned.”

    Filed by Tara Deschamps for The Canadian Press

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