Even Meta is over the Metaverse

Who even talks about the Metaverse anymore? I feel like we couldn’t go for a glass of wine at the end of 2022 without that buzz word appearing in what felt like every conversation whether the stance was mostly optimistic or someone went on a rant about moving to the forest and growing mushrooms…

Meta’s VP of Metaverse has even confirmed that Metaverse hype has died down – and he’s not mad at that. If anything, it means he can and his team can focus on cracking the code on the ambitious project. 

Meta exec Vishal Shah told Fortune that the metaverse hype cycle was followed by a “trough of disillusionment” that was “tough to live through,” but now his team can “put their heads down and build.” Shah spoke on Tuesday at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech live conference hosted in Utah.

“I think the metaverse hype is dead. I think we were in a hype cycle,” Shah said at the conference. “We didn’t invest for the hype, we have been investing in the space for years,” he added.

Much of the hype also surrounded the lack of clarity in terms of what Metaverse referred to. Generally, Metaverse is a catch-all term used to describe the idea of a virtual world of connected digital experiences accessed via a headset where people can simulate reality with the ability to work, socialise, shop, view entertainment, and generally hang out.

Mark Zuckerberg is a big believer in the metaverse, even rebranding his company Facebook into Meta to reference his view that the future was heading in that direction. But Meta’s internal metaverse and VR efforts, which posted a loss of nearly $14 billion in a single year, have drawn scrutiny from Wall Street as they have yet to turn profit.

A lack of hype can even be picked up within Meta’s own team. According to The Washington Post, only 26% of Meta employees who responded to an internal survey said they were confident in Zuckerberg’s leadership since the company’s pivot toward the metaverse. The Verge reported in October that staff said the flagship metaverse app had quality and performance issues, and according to one memo, the team weren’t really using the software much either.

Zuckerberg has largely seemed unfazed by the doubters, but more recently he’s been talking up about the company’s AI efforts in public instead, and not talking about the metaverse nearly as much as he used to. Meta and Zuckerberg are also about to face several competitors in the space. People access Meta’s metaverse apps through the company’s Quest lineup of headsets, but Apple recently announced the $3,499 Vision Pro headset. Interestingly enough, Apple is avoiding the term metaverse in favour of “spatial computing.” CEO Tim Cook has said he avoids using the word metaverse because most people don’t understand what it means, and executive Greg Joswiak told The Wall Street Journal that the term is one that he will never use.

Despite a lack of enthusiasm within Meta, its CTO Andrew “Boz” Bosworth recently responded to grumblings at the term in an Instagram Q&A where he was asked if the term had done more harm than good. He disagreed, and said he compared the confusion around the world to the initial misunderstanding of the word “internet”; “The internet actually is still, to this day, kind of hard to define,” Bosworth said, “except that we all know what it is because we use it.”

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