El sueño de Meta del metaverso se sigue viendo tan lejano como siempre

(CNN) — Even by Facebook standards, 2021 was a difficult year.

Una serie de informes condenatorios basados ​​en las filtrations de un denunciante hizo que se plantearan preguntas incómodas sobre el impacto de Facebook en la sociedad; the company continues to be troubled by concerns about the use of its platform to organize the disturbances of the 6th of January in the Capitol; y los cambios de privacy de Apple amenazaron su main business de publicity. In the meantime, young users flock to TikTok.

At a virtual reality event celebrated on October 28, 2021, CEO Mark Zuckerberg tried to turn the page. Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would change its name to Meta and dedicate itself to building a future version of the internet called “metaverso”, demonstrating to all in the process that the company that launched in 2004 was something more than a social networking business.

One year and thousands of millions of dollars después, el llamado metaverso todavía parece estar años de distance, si es que llega a manifestarse. Y la empresa antes conocida como Facebook sigue siendo en gran medida un negocio de sociales redes, que se frontena a más presión financiera que cuando announced el cambio.

Un cartel frente a la sede de Meta on April 28, 2022 in Menlo Park, California.

Un cartel frente a la sede de Meta on April 28, 2022 in Menlo Park, California. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

El casco de realidad virtual Quest 2 de Meta, launched two years ago, is popular in its category, but it remains a niche product in general. El Quest Pro, much more expensive, is intended for companies and probably not converted into a consumer product. Y la aplicación social de realidad virtual Horizon Worlds, el buque insignia de Meta, puede parecer un pueblo phantasma (although it is un pueblo phantasma con juegos de laser).

Although algunas marcas han apostado desde entonces por el metaverso, incluso contratando a “jefes del metaverso”, no está claro si los consumers quieren realente trabajar o jugar en él, o incluso si saban lo que significa este termo so difficile de definir. El metaverso se refers, en general, to a una especie de mundo virtual por el que la gente puede pasearse, así como a la idea de hacer que internet sea más ubicua e interconectada.

Meanwhile, the main business of Meta is struggling to face the increasing competition of TikTok or the advertising sector in retrocession due to fear of recession. Esta semana, la empresa informó de su segunda caida trimestral de sus ingresomes en la historia y redujo sus ganancias a la mitad con respecte al año previous. They are selling more ads but earning less money with them, and the growth of users on social media platforms is slowing down. Después de alcanzar una market capización de US$ 1 billion for the first time last summer, now it is worth a quarter of that figure, that is, less than Home Depot.

“The business is not growing in 2022,” said Gil Luria, technology strategist at DA Davidson. “Existe la expectation de que crezca en el futuro, pero esa expectation puede resultat optimista”.

Una apuesta que parécia atrevida hace un año ahora parece al borde de lo descabellado. Meta lost US$ 9,400 million in the first nine months of 2022 in its metaverso efforts and expects that unit losses will “increase significantly from one year to the next” in 2023. This has led to the inclusion of some of Meta’s supporters. insten a replantearse su cambio de estrategia, y posiblemente a frenarla. (It also provoked that uncongojado Jim Cramer, presenter of “Mad Money”, apologized to the spectators for trusting the management team of Meta and recommending to investors who bought the shares).

“La gente está confundida con lo que significa el metaverso. Si la empresa investiera between US$ 1,000 and US$ 2,000 million per year in this project, esa confusión ni siquiera sería un problema. Simplemente se haría investigation y desarrollo tranquilamente y los inversores se centrían en el negocio principal”, wrote Brad Gerstner, CEO of Altimeter Capital, shareholder of Meta, in a letter open to Zuckerberg this week. Instó a Meta a “limitar sus inversiones en el metaverso a no más de US$ 5,000 million per año con objetivos y medidas de éxito más discretes”.

The current rate of spending, he added, “is sobredimensionado y terrador, incluso para los standards de Silicon Valley”.

Meta no respondió a las requestos de comentarios para esta historia.

Un cambio repentino que lleva años gestándos

Mira este recorrido por el mundo del Metaverso 0:46

Although the change of name was announced barely a year ago, the step from Facebook to Meta took years. Zuckerberg said in the past that it was a long-term bet for the company, not a transformation from night to morning. It started with Facebook’s purchase of Oculus VR in 2014, and since then, the company has launched a series of increasingly affordable, affordable and portable headsets.

The last helmet of Meta, the Quest Pro, is its first effort to combine the immersion of virtual reality with the real world. You can show fine text and details in virtual reality, track your eyes and facial features to create a feeling of connection with other people in virtual spaces, and show a view of the world that surrounds you in color while allowing you to interact with digital objects, all of them guiños hacia el objetivo de Meta de attract a más usuarios empresariales.

Está muy lejos del casco Oculus Rift disponible en 2016: ese costaba US$ 599, pero los usuarios también que connectarlo a una powerful PC y utilizarlo con una camara con sensor en un soporte que guía al casco. Al principio, ese casco ni siquiera venia con mandos de mano con seguirio; initially se enviaba a los clientes con un mando de Xbox y un pequeño mando de mano.

Aunque los cascos han mejorado mucho, la realidad virtual y la realidad aumentada siguen siendo tecnologia emergentes que buscan un purpose y una popularidad. The market for virtual reality headsets is still very small compared to established devices such as console video games. ABI Research predicts that 11.1 million virtual reality helmets will be sold this year, of which, according to their forecasts, 70% will be Quest 2 helmets. This is a decrease from the estimate of 14.5 million helmets. en 2021, de los cuales los Quest 2 representaban el 85% del total.

There is potential for these products, say algunos experts in technology, even in the place of work, but in the short term its adoption by the part of daily users is still uncertain in the best cases.

“I am not sure that this will translate to final consumers in the short term,” says David Lindlbauer, an adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University who directs the school’s Laboratory of Increased Perception. (Meta sponsors the investigation of Lindlbauer on the development of advanced user interfaces for augmented reality and virtual reality).

Un casco no es un teléfono inteligente

Para Zuckerberg y Meta, esto supone un reto único.

Zuckerberg managed to make Facebook’s operations pass from desktop computers to mobile devices poco después de la company saliera a bolsa, a measure that helped boost its advertising business and secure its domain during a large part of the next decade. Pero los telefonos inteligentes ya eran omnipresentes en aquella época; In any case, Facebook llegó un poco tarde.

Ahora, la empresa trata de encabezar una nueva tecnología y espera que los consumers sigan su ejemplo.

Meta ha situado el cambio como una especie de imperativeo existentialo para la empresa. Después de que los changes en el aplicaciones de Apple prejudicaran la capacidad de Meta para dirigir los announcements aus usuarios, la empresa no quiere depender de ningun hardware o tienda de aplicaciones externa en el futuro.

But there is a great difference between looking at the screen of a computer or an intelligent phone and using a helmet. Although Lindlbauer imagines using the helmets for an hour a day, alternating between immersive views in virtual reality and digital images that mix with the physical world, “I think we still haven’t given the optimal point of something that wants to carry all the día”, he affirms.

Meta también se fronta a un enorme reto a la hora de showr contenidos de realidad virtual que a los usuarios les gusten y quieran utilizar repeatedly. According to a recent report from The Wall Street Journal, internal documents show that Horizon Worlds has less than 200,000 active monthly users, a manifest error for a company with 3,700 million active monthly users in various services. (Un portavoz de Meta dijo al Journal que es “fácil ser un cínico sobre el metaverso”, pero Meta believes que es “el futuro de la computación”).

“They are starting with this idea that they want to build a big space like Horizon Worlds in which the whole world will show up and start building things,” said Avi Bar-Zeev, founder of augmented reality and virtual reality consultancy RealityPrime and exemplified by Apple, Amazon and Microsoft, donde trabajó en el casco HoloLens VR. “No hay ningún mundo virtual que haya tenido éxito contrujendo un lienzo que la gente venga y empiece a pintar”.

Zuckerberg personally received intense criticism for the way Meta conceives labor and play interactions in virtual spaces, he published on Facebook an image of his avatar of blocks and cartoons in Horizon Worlds, an image that he later admitted was “quite basic” .

Critican a Zuckerberg por su avatar en el metaverso 1:15

“En lo que se referé al public que se apresura a participar, el progresso visto hasta ahora es una decepción,” said Janna Anderson, director of the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University. “Meta está sufriendo un tremendo ridiculouso en las redes sociales y en el espíritu general del public”.

Quest Pro’s facial tracking capabilities can help avatars’ facial expressions look more realistic: initially, users can access this tracking in Horizon Worlds and Horizon Workrooms, said Meta, as well as in various developer applications such as Painting VR and the DJ Tribe XR app.

But even with facial tracking, what users see when they enter Horizon Worlds – avatars in the form of blocks that only exist from the torso up, floating around a virtual plaza – will continue to contrast strongly with the image that Zuckerberg portrayed during the event Connect de Meta el 11 de octubre de su propio avatar de cuerpo whole.

Meanwhile, the investors appear to be tired of investments in the metaverse at a moment when the future of their main business is also profoundly uncertain.

“I think investors’ sentiment at the moment is summed up in the fact that there are too many experimental bets compared to core bets,” Jeffries analyst Brent Thill said on Meta’s earnings call this week.

Zuckerberg, por su parte, defiende el cambio de strategy. “Diría que hay una diferencia entre que algo sea experimental y no saber lo bueno que va a acabar siendo”, he replied. On the other hand, he added: “I think people will look back until the end of the decade and talk about the importance of the work that was done here.”

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