What’s happening to Zuck’s metaverse?

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The Meta Quest Pro, the new, souped-up VR headset from Facebook’s parent company, got its public debut yesterday at the Meta Connect event.

The high-end headset, which retails for $1,499, boasts new lenses that make it less bulky than its predecessors, and improved tech for mixed reality in full color. And it represents the first big product launch since the social media company rebranded last year and pivoted to developing a metaverse.

Meta’s bet the house that immersive augmented and virtual worlds will constitute the next stage of the internet. And the company needs this to work out—CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s new vision for the company was prompted by a slump in its existing platforms as young people fled to competitors like TikTok, and Apple’s new privacy rules took a $10 billion bite out of Meta’s advertising business.

But the metaverse is still not quite ready for primetime, and even Meta’s own employees don’t seem totally on board yet.

  • When pushed to have meetings inside the company’s professional VR app, many staffers had to scramble to get headsets before their managers realized they didn’t have them, according to The New York Times.
  • The company’s VP of Metaverse has said its Horizon Worlds VR social network is too buggy to provide a good experience, and chastised the team building it for not using it enough, per The Verge.

Meta’s high-stakes trip to the metaverse can’t be called a failure just yet. The Quest 2 is the most popular VR headset on the market, its Oculus VR app has been downloaded 21+ million times, and Horizon Worlds has about 300,000 monthly active users (though Facebook itself has 2.9 billion monthly users).

Bottom line: It’s possible those metaverse user numbers will keep growing as the tech improves, but there’s a risk that even if the metaverse takes off like Zuck thinks it will, it may not happen fast enough for Meta.