Why Facebook Is Now Meta
Zuckerberg invests big in a metaverse future
Facebook: It’s a company accessed nearly 2 billion times every day and, increasingly frequently, it doesn’t just report the news, it makes the news—not always in a positive light, but that is the past.
At its 2021 Connect event, the company that was Facebook announced to the world that that name would no longer be used to refer to the whole organization going forward. The Facebook social media platform is not going anywhere, but it will no longer be viewed as the cornerstone of business for CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
No, the future is the metaverse and, as such, Facebook is now Meta. Every facet of the organization, from Oculus to Instagram, is now contained under this umbrella. It is a name that reflects its CEO’s vision: Be the company for the metaverse going forward. The entirety of the 2021 Connect keynote reflected this goal. It represents a change, one that doesn’t really impact you or me today, but may well be a driving force of the world within 10 years.
Remember when the Internet was just starting out? Yeah, it’s like that. Sooo…what is the state of Meta and the larger metaverse? Short answer: There’s a lot going on, but the life-changing event we’re all waiting for still is some years away.
Let’s dive into the details!
Meta and the Future of Virtual Reality
Meta is no stranger to virtual reality (VR). Its Oculus headsets have been seen by many as the premiere products in consumer VR, especially the all-in-one Oculus Quest 2. And the Oculus Quest 2 is not going anywhere, at least not for a while. Meta announced no plans for an Oculus Quest 3 at the event, instead introducing a new product line, currently known as Project Cambria.
Unlike the Quest series, Cambria is aimed more toward the higher end of the consumer spectrum. This means more processing power, mixed reality compatibility, eye- and face-tracking, and of course, a higher price tag. This headset is set to launch sometime next year, but no exact date or price were given.
This is all well and good, but the larger highlight appeared on the software side. See, for a while now, there’s been this divide between consumer and enterprise VR headsets. This divide still exists, don’t get me wrong, but software is opening some doors between the two. Namely, Meta will bring business tools and programs to the Quest 2, making it easier for businesses to use the device. These work accounts will be selectable right alongside the Quest’s current gaming and social platforms.
Of course, remote collaboration platforms like Horizon Workrooms are supported—but it goes beyond that. Meta is giving its enterprise clients on Quest 2 control over functions such as account management, mobile device management, and single sign-on authentication capabilities. This will be part of a revamped subscription model designed to make the Quest 2 a very affordable all-in-one headset on the market for the growing hybrid segment of businesses.
Meta and the Future of Augmented Reality
I should clarify right now that, for this section, augmented reality (AR) includes mixed reality. Yes, there are technical differences, and I don’t mean to offend any XR engineers reading this, so let’s not get too hung up in the weeds. When I say AR, I am not just talking about digital information overlays, but worlds where virtual programs can interact with physical, real-world objects and boundaries.
During the event, Zuckerberg reiterated that, while Meta does not have dedicated AR hardware now (outside a line of smart glasses done in collaboration with Ray-Ban), the company is hard at work on a device that will not be ready anytime in the immediate future. This headset, codenamed Project Nazare, is part of Meta’s longer view on the metaverse and will feature numerous advanced technologies that will allow the user to completely map their home into the device (meaning that losing your smartphone may be a thing of the past). Is it cool? Undeniably, but it’s nothing to really dig into in 2021.
Meta: Why Should You Care?
Much of Zuckerberg’s keynote could—and did—cause eyerolls. This isn’t the first time a CEO has talked about how XR will transform the world and, to many, the metaverse may be nothing more than the latest buzzword. And it is true no new headset was really showcased, just a couple quick reveals and details that basically boiled down to “it will be cool, trust me.”
Nevertheless, the wheels are definitely in motion on the Internet’s next big evolution. Zuckerberg isn’t just talking, he’s investing—and he’s not alone. Microsoft, Apple, HTC, Samsung, Sony, Google, HP, Epson, and many other companies are all putting an incredible amount of money into at least one aspect of the metaverse. No industry, let alone print, can afford to shrug as this innovation—especially since it has the power to change communication, collaboration, and expression in ways difficult to fully understand at the present time.
Facebook turning into Meta at the very least represents a proactive mindset, one that does not linger on past successes but rather looks to remain relevant in the future. Zuckerberg could just sit on his billions and watch his social media empire slowly get replaced by the next thing. Instead, he has led his company to continued evolution, culminating in a change that runs deeper than just a name.
The metaverse is coming. Facebook just staked everything in it. I don’t think they were wrong to do so.
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