Facebook Co-founder Mark Zuckerberg announced about a year ago that he was betting the future of his company on the metaverse. So far, it looks like a bad bet.
Zuckerberg renamed the company he leads “Meta” to emphasize the transformation, but the main metaverse the social media giant is offering to consumers, Horizon Worlds, hasn’t lived up to expectations. Internal documents show the company is grappling with glitchy technology and boring users in its unrealized virtual world, based on the The Wall Street Journalwith the following key findings:
- Horizon’s user base has been steadily declining since spring. Most users do not return after the first month.
- Meta wants users to create their own worlds using Horizon’s tools. Less than 1% are doing so.
- Most creator-built worlds are never visited. Less than 10% get at least 50 visitors. An internal document notes: “An empty world is a sad world.
- Tips feature to reward creators whose efforts have generated payouts under $500 globally. In total, Horizon’s worlds only bring in about $10,000 for “In-World Payments”.
- The retention rate of the Quest virtual reality headset — sold by Meta to access Horizons — has decreased over the past three years.
- Meta’s goal of reaching 500,000 monthly active users by the end of the year seems unlikely. The company recently changed its target to 280,000, from just under 200,000 now.
Meta has placed Horizons on “quality lockout”—no new feature launches—to address bugs and complaints, such as The Verge reported.
Meanwhile, the company is struggling, facing competition from TikTok and privacy changes to Apple’s iPhone that are choking ad revenue. When Meta invested billions of dollars in the metaverse, its stock fell over 60% in the past year and last month it freezes hiring, reduces budgets, and restructures the team to reduce costs.
Of course, the company has insisted that building and refining its metaverse services will take years.
And it’s geared towards more than just the consumer side.
In the first day of this month, company introduction $1,500 business Meta Quest Pro headset. MicrosoftFirst, says it is working with Meta to create versions of office productivity software that customers can use while wearing high-end headsets. Voice mark CEO Julie Sweet and others also expressed their excitement.
But how much time people, whether at home or work, are willing to spend on face-worn headphones remains to be seen. One thing is for sure: In the long run, however, Zuckerberg’s super-reverse gamble will go down in the history books.
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