Big money is riding on the metaverse. Here's why it will eventually succeed even though it's derided by haters.
The metaverse is one of the most derided technological concepts. Which means it’s worthy of your attention. What if the haters are wrong, as they often are?
A few months ago, I wrote about the metaverse, what it could mean for an average user and why Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. META, -3.18% made its infamous pivot in 2021.
While analysts and shareholders have never been thrilled with Facebook’s rebranding, their disdain reached a fever pitch Oct. 11 at the Meta Connect event, when Meta Quest Pro, a mixed-reality headset developed by Meta’s Reality Labs division, was introduced.
Since then, outlets have jumped on the hate wagon and published scathing reviews and analysis — some of it showing a lack of understanding of the subject matter. For the past year, during which time the company’s stock has fallen 67%, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been under pressure to pull the plug on the metaverse project.
Here’s why the naysayers are wrong and “Zuck” is on to something.
Hate for Meta isn’t a new thing. Back in the Facebook days and even before the Cambridge Analytica incident, the company was disliked for its intrusive and manipulative strategies, which abused privacy of its users and manipulated their newsfeeds for all sorts of lucrative reasons. That criticism was well-earned.
However, it has to be said that most of it can also be applied to the rest of the FAANG gang (which includes Apple Inc. AAPL, -1.01%, Amazon.com Inc. AMZN, -1.17%, Netflix Inc. NFLX, -1.34% and Google holding company Alphabet Inc. GOOGL, +0.55%. ) Other tech giants have infringed on users’ rights, censored content as they saw fit and promoted the political agenda of the highest bidder when they were expected to remain impartial.
But the spotlight always shone brightest on Meta. Why is that? To answer that question, we need to look at the relationship between the company and other tech giants.
WeAreSocial did an interesting research piece in January:
As you can see, four of 10 most used social media platforms are owned by Meta. When the stats are translated into time spent, Meta still comes out on top:
Owning social media translates into huge profits, which is exactly what Apple and Google have wanted. They understand that in order to function and be interesting to advertisers, Meta needs to tap into all sorts of stats about its users. This data is then used to create robust targeting mechanisms that advertisers pay good money for.
Currently, two tech giants are trying their best to look like the “good guys” by limiting Meta’s access to users’ data in the name of privacy protection. Of course, both Google and Apple are privacy abusers in their own right, so this move is nothing more than a power struggle.
No one should be surprised. That’s why it’s best to look past this criticism. Here’s another reason why:
During the Oct. 18-20 Adobe MAX event, several changes to the company’s suite of products were introduced. As a designer with more than a decade of experience and an avid Adobe ADBE, -1.89% user, I am well aware of just how much sway it has in creative industries.
Adobe products hold a well-deserved top spot in designers’ arsenals, and its software covers everything from static media to 3D and motion design. The company earned its place by keeping its ear to the ground and listening to its users, thereby staying one step ahead of the curve. Adobe has implemented artificial intelligence (AI) in a number of filters and day-to-day tools, and added an array of useful neural filters, which rely on generative artificial intelligence.
At Adobe MAX, the company again showed its future thinking. On a page dedicated to the metaverse within its website, it says: “At Adobe, we believe that everyone should be able to create and participate in the metaverse. We’re committed to providing 3D and immersive creativity tools that allow anyone to express their point of view.”
The company’s whitepaper on the metaverse goes into detail, expanding on a series of tools in the Adobe lineup, which will help not only power users, but also everyday creators in their endeavor to build and enrich the metaverse. The last part implies that executives see the mass adoption of the metaverse at some point.
Adobe didn’t stop there. It has joined hands with Meta again to bring Substance 3D Modeler, a 3D modeling app, to the Meta Quest Pro platform.
“The Meta Quest Pro version of Adobe Substance 3D Modeler will empower Quest owners to create professional-caliber 3D objects with the option to do so entirely within a VR environment using handheld controllers or to switch back and forth between their headset and their desktop computer, as they transform basic shapes into complex objects. The partnership will open the door for millions of new creators to help build the metaverse, marking early milestones in a multi-year collaboration that aims to offer Adobe Substance 3D tools and Quest devices as creators’ top choices for creating immersive content.”
Substance 3D tools from Adobe have been used to create gaming and movie blockbusters, such as “Fortnite,” “Halo,” “Microsoft Flight Simulator,” “Dune,” “The Mandalorian” and “Blade Runner 2049,” so it’s a pretty big deal to have such tools in the hands of enthusiasts, professionals and, eventually, average users.
Although I’m not a fan of Microsoft Corp. MSFT, +0.23%, I have to acknowledge its position and influence in the tech world. While its HoloLens wasn’t exactly a flop, it wasn’t the success executives hoped for, either, and in 2021, the third iteration of the device was reportedly axed.
Following the cancellation, part of the HoloLens team fled to Meta. Although HoloLens 3 will likely never see the light of day, Microsoft still believes in the metaverse. The company told Business Insider that it remains committed to HoloLens and its future development. It said the same to PCWorld:
“Microsoft HoloLens remains a critical part of our plans for emerging categories like mixed reality and the metaverse,” the company said. “We remain committed to HoloLens and future HoloLens development.”
At the latest Meta Connect, Microsoft put its money where its mouth was and announced a collaboration with Meta. Microsoft obviously sees Meta as a company capable of delivering what it failed to do; instead of fighting an uphill battle, Microsoft’s executives went ahead and secured a piece of the metaverse pie for their own ecosystem.
The two companies have partnered to integrate Microsoft products and Meta’s Oculus Quest devices. The partnership will allow for immersive virtual meetings via Microsoft Teams and Quest hardware, as well as the ability to access Microsoft 365 apps within the Quest VR environment. Microsoft Intune and Azure Active Directory will be integrated with Quest devices for device management and security under the Quest for Business subscription.
Eventually, they plan to bring Xbox Cloud Gaming to the Meta Quest Store as well.
Needless to say, the collaboration is huge for both companies: Meta will get access to infrastructure with 270 million monthly active users, while Microsoft is offered an alternative inroads into the metaverse by relying on a superior product instead of its own.
Still, Meta has lost two-thirds of its value this year on account of tens of billions of dollars on projected spending on the metaverse. The splurge is undeniably there.
However, naysayers fail to mention that many massive companies are also making a bet on the metaverse.
The global metaverse market was valued at $100 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow to $1.52 trillion by 2029, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 48%. It’s up to you to decide whether you want to be a part of it or not.
As for me, I’m getting my Meta Quest Pro as soon as it becomes available to Croatian buyers.
As always, I’m very much interested in your opinion. What do you think? Let me know in the comment section below.