How Facebook’s Meta Brand Could Accidentally Kill the Global Metaverse – Quartz

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The virtual ink isn’t even dry on Facebook’s new Meta logo, and smirks and not-so-subtle metaverse digs are already pouring in.

Facebook’s daring rebranding effort may have temporarily wrapped the 17-year-old company in a veneer of startup novelty, but it’s becoming clear that critics of the company are not buying it. And if Mark Zuckerberg asserts himself as the poster for the Metaverse, he may never achieve the mainstream status that many Big Techs hope to achieve.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, tweeted her disdain right after yesterday’s event.

One of the most puzzling aspects of Facebook’s history is how the company has continued to maintain an engaged user base of around 2.9 billion while navigating a myriad of controversies over the past year. decade. From advertising issues and mismanagement of user data, to damning reports from former employee whistleblowers, Facebook’s problems have continued to garner negative cultural and government scrutiny. Despite this, the company’s Instagram, Whatsapp, and Facebook products remain viable social media destinations for many users around the world.

How big is Facebook’s metaverse?

Although Zuckerberg has injected the term metaverse into almost every presentation over the past few years, the actual footprint of the user base on the company’s Oculus platform is relatively small. The exact numbers for the different versions of the Oculus VR devices (Rift, Go, Quest 1, Quest 2) are not available, but the most popular Facebook VR headset, the Oculus Quest 2, has at least 4 million users, based on a recent recall of 4 million Quest 2 facial inserts.

What we do know for sure is that the total number of Facebook VR users has not hit the 10 million user mark, which remains one of the CTO’s main goals. Andrew Bosworth. So, in numbers, the true user base of Zuckerberg’s metaverse didn’t even exceed 1% of the company’s overall audience. At this point, the Meta rebranding is ambitious marketing rather than a central part of the company’s operations.

Prior to Zuckerberg’s aggressive use of the term metaverse, this term was only one of many terms used to describe the burgeoning field of VR and AR platforms and devices. Cloud AR, XR, and space computing were just a few others. But when Zuckerberg started to embrace the term, including this summer in a call for results (pdf), Wall Street took note and started using it as well, usually referring to Facebook in some way. ‘another one.

By renaming his entire business to Meta, Zuckerberg is making “metaverse” a synonym for Facebook. But this is just one of many companies with considerable resources and high motivation that are working on their own versions of the Metaverse. However, like Kleenex and Band-Aid, brand names that have come to describe products in the minds of consumers, Facebook’s adoption of the name Meta may soon become indistinguishable from “metaverse” in common parlance.

That’s great for Facebook, but awkward for publicly traded companies like Microsoft, Apple, Snap, and Unity, as well as a wide range of startups, all of which have their own major investments in the in-game metaverse.

Meta is not the metaverse

If social media influencers, tech media, and government officials decide the Metaverse is equal to Meta, with all of the negatives associated with that narrative, it could present an array of obstacles – some good, some damaging. to its growth – to the general space of the metaverse.

Currently, the Metaverse has few rules, and most virtual environments dictate their own honor systems around issues like harassment and conflict resolution. Virtual reality social networks like Microsoft’s AltspaceVR and Facebook’s Horizon operate in a new frontier that most lawmakers and special interest groups are unfamiliar with.

Likewise, the designers of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act dating from the 1990s, designed to protect information providers from liability for offensive content on their platforms, could not have imagined the challenges of regulation. virtual worlds and avatars.

But now Facebook has become the biggest forefront of the new metaverse dynamic, just as lawmakers prepare to take action against the company. If this review involves new regulation, the ripple effects could make creating new non-Facebook metaverse platforms and products more expensive, less open to the creativity that made the web grow, and much riskier for any business. who doesn’t. have deep pockets for potential legal fees. Facebook’s decision to shine the spotlight on the Metaverse may have inadvertently put many other Metaverse companies in the crosshairs of lawmakers.

What once seemed to be an inevitable spread of next-generation computing interfaces and experiences has been brought to a halt due to marketing plots at Zuckerberg’s headquarters in Palo Alto.

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