In June 2021, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg confided to employees an ambitious new initiative. The future of the world’s largest social platform will go far beyond what it currently does, which is to build a set of interconnected social applications and support it with some hardware. Instead, Facebook will strive to achieve a maximum connection experience that comes directly from science fiction, a game-like experience-a world called the Metaverse.
On July 22, Zuckerberg said in an interview with the technology media The Verge: “In the next five years or so, in the next chapter of the company, we will effectively transition from a social media company in people’s minds to a meta-universe company. ”
in the end of July earnings conference call, with plenty of time Zuckerberg explained the meaning of” meta universe. ” He said: “This is a virtual environment where you can be with people in the digital space. You can think of it as an embodied Internet, where you are in it, not just browsing. We believe it will be mobile The successor of the Internet.” After
only three months, Zuckerberg took a shocking step: Facebook took the prefix of the English word “meta universe” (meta, derived from Greek, meaning transcendence) and changed its name to Meta (Full name: Meta Platforms Inc.). Zuckerberg said in a speech at the Facebook Connect conference held on October 28, “Meta universe is the next frontier. From now on, we will put meta universe first, not Facebook first.” On the same day, Zuckerberg published an open letter from the founder, stating that Metaverse “will touch every product we create.”
Zuckerberg said, “We now see business as two different parts: one is our application series, and the other is our work on the future platform”, and the meta-universe encompasses the above two major pieces: Social experience and future technology. “All our products, including our apps, now have a new vision: to help bring the meta-universe to life.”
In addition to the group name change, correspondingly, the Facebook stock code will also be changed to “MVRS” from December 1. From the fourth quarter of 2021, Meta will be divided into two parts for financial report disclosure: one is a series of social applications including Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, etc., and the other is to cover AR/VR hardware and software and content services. The internal Facebook Reality Labs (FRL), of course, the Oculus hardware department is indispensable. In other words, the sixth most valuable company in the world will be transformed into Meta, a meta universe company.
Zuckerberg opens the meta-universe to seal the borders
Zuckerberg’s thinking about the intergenerational evolution of the Internet does not start today. In 2014, Facebook acquired the VR headset company Oculus for $2 billion. Zuckerberg said in a statement at the time that the social networking site was “preparing for the platform of tomorrow.”
In terms of business strategy, Zuckerberg is now “All in Metaverse”, which is a wise move. Because if the meta universe becomes a climate, Facebook will lose the most from it compared to any other company. Facebook’s most valuable asset is its social graph, its user data sets, the links between users, and the content they share. Assuming that in a meta-universe future, we all have identities in it, and anyone can open a virtual space, share photos of birthday parties, or show themselves through digital fashion, then such virtual world social interaction will become a nightmare for Facebook . Metaverse will fundamentally make social networks irrelevant. So Facebook must act to draw a larger and more capable social graph that represents a new computing platform and a new participation platform.
Although Metaverse may succeed the mobile Internet as the next computing platform, its basic development process probably has little in common with its predecessor. The Internet comes from public research universities and US government projects. This is partly because few people in private companies understand the commercial potential of the Internet, while universities and governments did have computing talents, resources, and ambitious entities to build the Internet. Now, when the meta universe opens, all these conditions have changed.
Private enterprises are not only fully aware of the potential of Metaverse, but also have the most positive belief in the future, not to mention the most cash, the best engineering talents, and the greatest desire to conquer. The major technology companies don’t just want to take a share in the metaverse, they also want to own and define it. Open source projects with a non-profit spirit will still play a big role—they will attract some of the most interesting creative talents in the meta-universe—but there are only a few possible contenders in the cracked soil opened by Facebook. You will recognize each of them.
The war is of course burned from the mobile era. Meta has invested a lot of money in virtual and augmented reality, constantly upgrading Oculus VR headsets and other hardware, is committed to the development of AR glasses and wristband technology, and has purchased a large number of VR game studios including BigBox VR. In September 2019, Facebook released the VR social platform Facebook Horizon, and launched a public beta in August 2020. Users can build environments and games in it, and socialize with friends. In October 2021, Facebook removed its brand from the VR platform, gave it a new name, Horizon Worlds, focused its work on the construction of VR-based tools, and established a $10 million fund to encourage creators .
Obviously, Facebook believes that VR will become the gateway to the meta-universe. Its new generation of VR equipment Oculus Quest 2 released in September 2020 has cumulative sales of over 4 million units, which has surpassed the total of all previous Oculus VR headsets. Although it is not worth mentioning compared to mobile phone shipments, Facebook’s bet is that it can reduce its dependence on other hardware manufacturers on the occasion of the next big computing platform transition. Furthermore, widely used VR devices will give Facebook the opportunity to give orders, enabling it to bypass Apple and Google’s privacy agreements and the app store fees they charge.
Despite some efforts in building smartphone operating systems and deploying consumer hardware, Facebook is still a FAAMG company purely at the application/service layer (the English initials of Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft). abbreviation). Facebook’s third-quarter sales and fourth-quarter forecasts did not meet analysts’ expectations, partly due to Apple’s new regulations on iPhone user data that can be collected by apps such as Facebook and Instagram. Facebook realizes that it does not own the digital real estate base occupied by most users. Through Metaverse, it expects that it can get the opportunity to become the next Android or iOS/iPhone, not to mention that it may also be a virtual product version of Amazon.
From the perspective of hardware, it is still far away to meet the needs of the meta-universe. Zuckerberg estimates that it will take another ten years or so. By then, the new hardware will have higher resolution, stronger processing power, and better quality screens and lenses, thereby providing users with a crazy sense of immersion.
Another important pillar is the economy spawned by the metaverse. In the words of venture capitalist Matthew Ball, make metaverse a fully operational economy—individuals and businesses will be able to create, own, Invest, sell, and reap the rewards through a series of incredible “jobs”, and the “value” generated by these jobs will be recognized by others. For example, creators can sell real-world goods, but more are selling consumer-level digital content, such as virtual offices and users, or digital avatar VR/AR fashion items.
Facebook’s meta-universe advantage is huge. It has more users, more frequent daily use and richer user-created content than any other platform on the planet, as well as the second largest share of digital advertising, billions of dollars in cash, and Thousands of world-class engineers, as well as the firm belief of the founder who holds the majority of voting rights. Its assets for Metaverse are also growing rapidly, and now it also includes patents on semiconductors and brain-computer interfaces. The downside is that it has a series of very troublesome aspects in creating a platform where third-party developers/enterprises can build sustainable businesses, in acting as the leader of a consortium (such as Libra), and in managing user data/trust. record.
Therefore, Zuckerberg’s bold plan and arrogance (why do you believe that other tech people will follow him?) is an attempt to put Facebook, which now has 3 billion global users, at the top of an inevitable wave.
Human life in the meta-universe
For many years, Facebook has described its mission as connecting people online. Zuckerberg believes that Metaverse is part of the company’s natural development, allowing people to move freely between virtual reality, augmented reality, personal computers and traditional smartphones.
”You will span these experiences on different devices-augmented reality glasses remain in the physical world, virtual reality is fully immersed in it, and phones and computers jump in from existing platforms. This is not about spending on screens. More time, but to make the time we have already spent better.” Zuckerberg said in an open letter.
The promise of time is reminiscent of the guarantee that the game will not be addictive. Metaverse allows users who are tired of photo filters and video editing tools to embody brand-new characters in different digital ways, and show their creativity through avatars. This must encourage young people to spend more time online.
To be honest, the new Meta company may have a hidden reason to change the image of the old company. When the social media market is facing new pressures, tilting more towards Metaverse can make the company look like it is diversifying its business. Young competitors, such as Bytedance’s TikTok, have a fatal attraction to people under the age of 25. Therefore, Meta’s new action can also be understood as finding ways to focus on attracting young adults again.
Whether the meta universe is valuable is almost secondary, because it is coming, if not already. Technology and video game companies, such as Epic Games, Roblox, Disney, Microsoft, and of course Facebook, are investing billions of dollars in these virtual worlds. One can imagine that technology companies may decide to subsidize their own VR glasses and other devices—just as they do with smart products such as home smart speakers—in order to drive consumers into their world. If Metaverse now has a clear sense of early adopters (such as concentrated in game user groups), then it may soon be “democratized”, providing incentives for less wealthy users to allow them to Time and attention are spent in these environments.
Even if you can’t afford a beautiful digital property or a helmet to watch it, you will definitely have the opportunity to earn money by performing virtual tasks, mining cryptocurrency, handing over personal data, watching advertisements, or minting NFTs. living expenses. These types of micro labor are one of the frustrating innovations in the Internet economy, and they are too suitable for the meta universe and its overheated form of digital capitalism.
Metacosmic capitalism has other characteristics. Think about it, the success of the global economy is mainly due to openness, trade, and the ability of people, capital and data to flow from one ecosystem to another. This should also be the model of the meta-universe economy. People will need to move skins (avatars), assets (such as NFT) and currencies on different platforms, preferably without import duties or exchange rates. Users also need a way to view all their digital assets in one place. In order to manage all of this, new financial services will be needed, such as a meta universe wallet or locked storage facilities. Before we fully realize the benefits of blockchain, how to move money and assets in the meta-universe will be a huge headache.
A decentralized, automated, and confirmed blockchain model means that companies, developers, and end users can rest assured that their virtual investments and the value of these investments will not be due to a whim of a CEO or a government. And was changed arbitrarily or disappeared overnight. In the absence of a Metaverse government or other regulatory agencies, blockchain technology will ensure that Metaverse’s transactions and identities are safe and open. In addition, NFT will allow users of Metaverse to have unique and customized items, just like in the real world, while cryptocurrency provides a roadmap for the formation of Metaverse economy. We are counting on all these new financial instruments to increase the economic efficiency of Meta Universe.
But who will build all this? Companies headed by Facebook are building different versions of technologies that they believe will constitute the future of society. This brings us to an extremely important question: Will there be only one meta-universe? And how to conduct meta-universe governance?
Zuckerberg acknowledged in the open letter: “Meta universe will not be created by a single company. It will be established by creators and developers to create new experiences and digital projects that are interoperable and release A huge creative economy that transcends today’s platforms and its policy restrictions.” We are familiar with the phraseology. When faced with the open Internet, the giants also said the same. The final development result is that their business model is based on the formation of scale and squeezing competitors, while keeping their most powerful assets-user data-in a walled garden.
Inferring from the current version of the Internet, the follow-up development is likely to be that technology giants like Facebook define and colonize the meta-universe, while the traditional governance structure cannot keep up with the pace of technological change. There are a bunch of ready-made problems: how to manage the virtual space, how to control its content, and what impact its existence will have on our sense of common reality. We are currently still struggling with the two-dimensional version of the social platform, and handling the three-dimensional version may be even more difficult.
If we are more cynical, we might as well say that Metaverse allows technology companies to avoid the negative baggage associated with the Internet, especially social media. Observers have discovered that as long as the technology can look fresh, novel, and cool, you can escape regulation. At least, you can defend for several years before the government catches up.
There is also a very simple reason for the popularity of the meta universe: it sounds more futuristic than the “Internet”, which makes investors and media people more excited. Of course, the tycoons who sell this vision of the future are themselves more excited. Create an alternative world, in this world, everyone must use your currency, act according to your rules, and at the same time involuntarily promote themselves in it, this idea of ”making the world” is for the rich , Really has a huge appeal.
I believe that Mark Zuckerberg’s enthusiasm for the meta-universe stems from his desire to withdraw from reality. A person who became the fifth richest man in the world before the age of 40 may have more influence than anyone in history, but he is increasingly seen as a threat. I believe he might find this confusing and frustrating, and perhaps unfair. We should recognize his achievements. We should give him freedom and let him enter the meta universe.
Now we should change our name to Facebook, Meta. How will it “surpass”? Xiaozha, as the leader of the meta universe, where will mankind go next? Is it the Matrix-style happy world with beef-flavored programs?