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    Mark Zuckerberg & the Metaverse – Did He Get it All Wrong?

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    In 2021, Mark Zuckerberg took Facebook into what he hoped was the next step for his company. He called it the “metaverse,” and it would be, he said, the Virtual Reality (VR) platform where we worked, socialized, and lived virtually.

    Bringing the concept from primitive Facebook virtual reality experiments to an immersive VR has seen its share of bumps. Some have even deemed Zuckerberg’s vision a failure. However, Zuckerberg was so sold on the concept that he changed Facebook’s name to “Meta.” 

    Here is what is known about the Metaverse, as Zuckerberg interprets it, and whether that vision is close to reality.

    Table of Contents

    What Is the Metaverse?

    The answer to this question depends on who you ask. Even with Zuckerberg, the Metaverse is at least two different concepts. Moreover, his concept of the Metaverse differs from many of his fellow industry decision-makers.  

    Metaverse as a Living Space

    The first is a virtual reality platform that lets people socialize, work, and play in real-time. That is best embodied by Zuckerberg’s “couch discussion vision,” where two people in different locations communicate “in person” in the Metaverse. In Zuckerberg’s imagination, that shared virtual space comes about as a hologram of person 1 in the location of person 2.

    Horizon (Facebook’s VR platform) Workrooms, released by Meta in 2021, is another way this “realistic-virtual” world exists. Workrooms allowed a virtual meeting to occur at a virtual conference table with participants assuming avatars. The company pitched the idea as an alternative to conferencing platforms like Zoom.

    Metaverse as a Gaming/Entertainment Platform

    The second concept for the Metaverse is more oriented toward digital gaming and entertainment. This type of Metaverse resembles those funny television commercials where someone wearing a VR headset destroys their house while playing a game. 

    In this version of the Metaverse, participants are less “real” but have one-on-one interactions in the context of gaming. This version of the Metaverse is not reality but allows users to experience a more realistic fantasy.

    Those two ideas, for most people, eventually merge and create the Metaverse.

    Evolving Is Key 

    Evolving, however, is also a key element of the Metaverse. The reality is that no one knows where it will end up or how the Metaverse will look as a final product, assuming it is ever achieved. 

    Adding to that is the fact that Zuckerberg’s vision of the Metaverse is just one of dozens.

    The Metaverse is potentially the next great profit and data collection center, which for a company that specializes in collecting and selling data as well as advertising to end users, represents a growing trend that is impossible to ignore.

    What Does the Metaverse Look Like?

    Ideas of what the Metaverse looks like are a topic of much debate. It depends on whom you discuss the issue with and their role in the Metaverse. 

    End User Ideas

    For example, an end user might envision a metaverse focused on gaming that provides an immersive experience with a healthy dose of fantasy.

    In this version, the user fights off bad guys and completes missions, wrapping up their day online by taking in a concert performed by a 50-foot version of a real-life rapper. For this person, the Metaverse looks remarkably real but is also oriented towards the gaming environment they routinely enjoy.

    Zuckerberg’s Vision 

    Another VR user might envision a metaverse like what Zuckerberg defined. Their vision might be more oriented to virtual social centers that allow like minds to trade ideas and communicate. Golfers go to a Golfing forum. Gardeners hang out in a gardening zone. The possibilities are limitless, and art imitates real life in this version of the Metaverse.

    A Business Tool

    Still, one more version of the Metaverse is that of business-driven developers. Whether you think him on the mark or not, Zuckerberg envisioned a metaverse where people performed collaborative work, making it easier to have remote workers and workers in multiple global positions.

    The competing visions, however, make it impossible to pin down one version of the Metaverse. Given the disparate concepts of metaverse functionality, it is far more likely that the end product will incorporate elements of all three visions above, plus other concepts yet to be considered. Any assertion of a final version is nothing more than an uneducated guess.  

    Why Mark Zuckerberg Wants a Metaverse

    Getting to the bottom of the question of Zuckerberg’s motivations is a thorny proposition. On the one hand, Zuckerberg is a CEO of a hugely successful company with a very profit-driven business model.

    On the other hand, Zuckerberg is generally interested in where this will all end up. He seems to genuinely wants to see a VR world that enhances all of our existence, profit motive aside.

    Practically, Zuckerberg is also accountable to Meta and shareholders, which is likely the primary driver of Meta’s actions. The Metaverse is potentially the next great profit and data collection center. For a company specializing in collecting and selling data and advertising to end users, it represents a growing trend that is impossible to ignore.

    Is Mark Zuckerberg Stuck in the Metaverse?

    Meta has invested billions in Metaverse development, including the Oculus product line and internal VR environments. Given the investment and his stated dedication to developing an ultra-realistic and functional VR reality, it is fair to say that at least Meta and Zuckerberg are not going to divest themselves of their interest in the Metaverse any time soon.

    The question is how much will they modify their interest, investment, development, and actions? Will Meta back off since the Metaverse does not seem to have taken off as Zuckerberg anticipated? Or, will the fact Zuckerberg predicted a final product is at least a decade away factor into the company’s commitment? Finally, how much will shareholders drive the decision?

    Main Takeaways: Did Zuckerberg Get It Wrong?

    Since no one knows what the Metaverse will end up looking like, judging if Zuckerberg’s decision was wise or not is impossible. His product likely represents one wing of the system, and it might even be a very minor part of it at that. Or, his vision may become absorbed by other, larger concepts.

    No one knows, and that makes judging the correctness of a move impossible. What is known, however, is that Meta seems invested in pursuing its version, which may or may not include Zuckerberg’s ideals, but will certainly require his approval to move forward.

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