AI is Succeeding as Interest in the Metaverse Declines
Is this it for the Metaverse? For the past couple of weeks technology and investor journals have been reporting that Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg is actively making plans to write off his investment in the metaverse concept and switch attention to Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Meta slashed 11,000 jobs in November 2022. A new wave of job cuts is expected to happen soon, with a focus on Reality Labs – the hardware division focused on making metaverse tools, such as the Virtual Reality (VR) headsets needed for complete immersion.
Back in the distant past – 2021 – Zuckerberg had announced that the metaverse was the future for his company. He even changed the Facebook name to Meta at that time.
‘And my hope, if we do this well, I think over the next five years or so, in this next chapter of our company, I think we will effectively transition from people seeing us as primarily being a social media company to being a metaverse company,’ Zuckerberg said in the interview with The Verge.
What Zuckerberg was essentially doing was predicting that the future of the Internet will be experiential. It will be something we are inside, a place we go to, not just a screen or device.
I don’t think he was wrong, but I do think that his expected vision of a five-year window was ridiculously ambitious. The first problem is the headsets. A cheap one is about $400 and the more professional ones are over $1,000.
Then, there is the rapid cultural change. People have browsed the Internet for thirty years now – they are not used to being inside it. It will take some time to change cultural behavior. People need to be drawn in by attractive events – they need a strong reason to experiment. When the PC first arrived many people asked why they needed a computer on their desk, until they saw what could be done with spreadsheets. The metaverse needs a similarly strong application that draws people in.
I would also argue that the Covid pandemic caused many people to question how much time they spend online. We were forced to endure day after day of webinars and Zoom calls during the pandemic. How many people now want to spend all their working day inside a virtual office and then enter the metaverse during their leisure time?
Apple has plans to release their own headset, probably in 2025. Their focus is on the eventual replacement of the smartphone, so it’s more like a mixed reality headset that allows the user to access information and mix real world images with additional data – Augmented Reality (AR).
This difference in approach is interesting. Apple is assuming that people will not just hang out in the metaverse without a reason. They feel that AR is a more natural way in and I tend to agree. We will see more AR and, as better VR applications arrive, there will be a stronger draw for the full-on immersive experience.
The focus on AI is to be expected. The general public has become very aware of how powerful some AI can be with the recent launch of ChatGPT and similar efforts from Microsoft and Google. Generative AI has become the technology trend of 2023.
But AI can play a more central and strategic role for many organizations. The recent media interest has just highlighted how far AI has come in the past few years. McKinsey wrote a recent report focusing on how AI should be at the heart of corporate strategy and I think it is interesting to see just how important technology has become to the corporate planning process.
McKinsey believes that AI will become far more prevalent in the c-suite, especially for strategic planning. We are moving on from just focusing on data analytics and can now use AI to explore various areas of a business, such as looking back at past performance and identifying decisions that led to failure or success to influence future decisions.
AI is about to become a trusted adviser to many CEOs. Technology is not just in the boardroom, it is now the strategic adviser to leading companies.
Continue discovering what the future will be like. Gartner has provided a good summary for the tech industry. Their latest analysis looking ahead to 2023 lists ten important technologies worth watching this year – and AI is one of them.