It has been 8 months since, at the end of October 2021, Facebook got off the hook confirming the rumors of its name change. Facebook would be renamed Meta, and presented a bet towards the metaverseworlds with avatars and virtual and augmented reality that caught many off guard.
The image of Zuckerberg joining his hand with his self-metaverse he was left riding the meme and fear. The technological giant that has shown the most that it does not care about privacy and good standards, the nephilim of advertising that has been acquiring rivals and possible competitors at the stroke of a checkbook; now he proposed us to get into a kind of mix between Matrix and Second Life.
Nobody knew what to expect.
Zuckerberg and Facebook (now Meta) tried to ride the next wave
After this time, what seems clear is that Zuckerberg, who in addition to everything that can be blamed on him, is also a very intelligent guy —like it or not—, has a clear plan: try to get ahead and capture from the name what, in your betthink it will be the next big thing technological wave.
This concept of technological wave has its history. Coined by economist Joseph Schumpeter in 1942, the “creative destruction” theory suggests that business cycles run under long waves of innovation. Specifically, when markets are disrupted, key industry groups have huge effects and changes in the economy.
For example: the railway industry. In the early 19th century, the railroads completely changed urban demographics and commerce. Similarly, the Internet disrupted entire industries, from media to retail.
In total, it is estimated that six technological waves have occurred in the last 300 years:
- During the first wave of the Industrial Revolution, water power was essential for the manufacture of paper, textiles, and iron products. Unlike the mills of the past, the large dams fed the turbines through complex ribbon systems. Advances in the textile sector brought the first factories, and cities expanded around them.
- With the second wave, between about 1845 and 1900, came the significant advances in rail, steam, and steel. The railway industry alone affected countless industries, from iron and oil to steel and copper. In turn, large railway monopolies were formed.
- The appearance of electricity that powered light and telephone communication through the third wave dominated the first half of the 1900s.
- Henry Ford introduced the Model T as a utility car accessible to many more people, and the assembly line transformed the automobile industry. Automobiles became closely tied to the expansion of American metropolises. Later, also in the fourth wave, aviation revolutionized travel.
- After the appearance of the Internet in the early 1990s, the barriers to information were disrupted. New media changed political discourse, news cycles, and communication in the fifth wave. The Internet inaugurated a new frontier of globalization, a borderless landscape of digital information flows.
- The sixth would be the one we are going through: that of complete digitization, robotization and who knows if later, virtual and augmented reality.
For the economist Schumpeter, technological innovations fueled economic growth and improved living standards.
However, these Disruptors may also have a tendency to lead to monopolies. Especially during the upswing of a cycle, the strongest players make wide margins, moat and push back their rivals. Normally, these cycles begin when innovations go mainstream.
Now the question Zuckerberg intends to answer is whether the next wave will be that of the metaverse and augmented reality.
Meta’s metaverse begins to take shape
While trying to get a monopoly on the metaverses, and announces hiring 10,000 developers to get it up and runningLast week Zuckerberg also unveiled the first Meta-related devices.
If Zuckerberg makes Oculus-like simulators commonplace, Meta will have a new source of revenue from hardware sales, and will control its own hardware platform, making it less susceptible to platform changes from other companies. For example, in its latest earnings release, Meta said that Apple’s recent privacy changes to the iPhone could cost it $10 billion in lost revenue this year by hampering the company’s ability to target ads. to specific audiences.
The AR and VR market is currently small, and there are questions about how big it could get. Meta currently dominates device sales, with its current Quest 2 accounting for 78% of all headset sales in 2021, according to an IDC estimate. But only 11.2 million VR devices were sold in total during the year, a far smaller number than smartphones or PCs.
Meta showed what look like evolutions of the Oculus. Current displays have low resolution, exhibit distortion artifacts, and cannot be worn for long periods of time.
“It’s not going to be that long before we can create scenes with perfect fidelity,” Zuckerberg said of the company’s VR efforts. “The thing today is that the vividness of the screens we have now compared to what your eye sees in the physical world is off by an order of magnitude or more,” Zuckerberg said.
Over the last few years, Meta has regularly shown its partners and the press its advances in virtual reality headsets and augmented reality glasses, to encourage investors to consider the project worthwhile, and to help recruit Highly paid developers and executives with VR and AR experience.
Unlike Apple, Meta regularly shows unfinished prototypes to the public. “These prototypes are custom, bespoke models that we build in our lab, so they are not products that are ready to be released to the public,” Zuckerberg said.
These are the prototypes he showed:
- butterscotch. Butterscotch is designed to test higher resolution screens that have pixels small enough that the human eye can’t tell them apart. However, Meta states that the prototype is “not anywhere near transportable” due to how heavy and bulky it is; furthermore, the prototype still has exposed circuit boards.
- half dome 3. Meta has been working on Half Dome devices since at least 2017 to test a type of display that can change the focus point distance of VR headset optics. With Half Dome technology, Meta says the resolution and image quality could be improved enough for users to create giant computer monitors inside the glasses for work.
- holocake 2. Meta claims that it is the thinnest and lightest VR headset the company has ever made and is fully capable of running any VR software if connected to a PC. However, it requires specialized lasers that are too expensive for consumer use and require additional safety precautions.
- star burst. Starburst is a research prototype focused on high dynamic range displays, which are brighter and display a greater range of colors. Meta claims that HDR is the technology most associated with added realism and depth.
- Mirror Lake. Meta also showed off a concept design called Mirror Lake for a ski goggle-style device. Mirror Lake is designed to combine all the technologies from the Meta helmets it is developing into a single, next-generation screen.
“The Mirror Lake concept is promising, but right now it’s just a concept and no fully functional headset has been built to conclusively test its architecture,” Michael Abrash, chief scientist at Meta Reality Labs, said in the presentation. As it turns out, it will change the visual experience of VR.”
Goal: run forward yet?
All this bet suggests that the path of Meta is clear. But it does not dispel the doubt as to whether it is a flight forward to get out of a business that is going less and where it has an increasingly worse reputation.
The week in which Facebook presented its new name also came to light through TheVergean internal analysis that made it clear that Facebook was in decline in terms of attracting young audiences.
According to internal papers, teenage users of the Facebook app in the United States had dropped 13 percent since 2019 and were expected to drop 45 percent in the next two years., fueling an overall decline in daily users in the company’s most lucrative advertising market. Young adults in their 20s and 30s were expected to decline 4 percent over the same period. To make matters worse, the younger the user, the less they regularly engaged with the app. The message was clear: Facebook was rapidly losing traction with younger generations.
The “aging problem is real”, the researcher wrote in an internal note. They predicted that if “fewer teenagers are choosing Facebook as they age,” the company would face a more “serious” decline in young users than it had already anticipated.
The documents show that Facebook views its aging user base as an existential threat to the long-term health of its business. A trend that was starting to move to Instagram… So, it is normal that Meta wants in the future to put us all in the metaverse for the account that it bringsand thus monopolize what, under his idea, could be the next great technological wave.