Tech

Meta exec says the metaverse will eventually be as important as smartphones

A hot potato: Are you excited about the metaverse? Probably not. But Meta’s chief product officer Chris Cox believes the naysayers will one day be proved wrong: when the virtual reality platform becomes so important in our everyday lives that it’ll be comparable to smartphones.

Speaking during a panel about the VR technology at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, yesterday (via Insider), Cox said Meta believes that “one day that computing platform will be as important as the smartphone has become in our lifetimes.”

Cox said Meta has been trying to build a virtual reality product line for almost a decade that is affordable, accessible, and impressive. The idea is for it to be incorporated into a broad range of areas, from social experiences and fitness to gaming, medicine, and drug development. Meta also wants it used to design the likes of sneakers and cars.

Few people share this optimistic vision of a metaverse becoming as widespread and important as smartphones. One analyst recently predicted that most metaverse business projects will have shuttered by 2025. There was also a survey of almost 10,000 teens last year in which half said they were uninterested in the metaverse. Even some Meta staff are unconvinced.

Another concern for advocates might be 2022’s declining VR sales, though a pandemic-induced uptick from a year earlier played a part in the falling figures, admittedly. The recent departure of John Carmack, who left the company with some damning words, was also a blow.

Cox believes that one of the biggest problems with the metaverse in its current form is its lack of interoperability with other platforms. “I think the Internet is a very good way of thinking about the metaverse, because some parts of the Internet are very coherent with each other,” he said, an example of the interoperability that “doesn’t exist yet for the metaverse.”

Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg continues to bet big on the metaverse. Reality Labs, the Meta division responsible for its metaverse ambitions, has lost around $16 billion since the start of 2021. But Zuck’s faith remains unwavering; the CEO says rewards for all this investment won’t appear for another decade, at which point the virtual reality platform could potentially start earning hundreds of billions, if not trillions, of dollars.

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