“It’s the future we are working towards. A virtual environment where you can be present with people in a digital space. An embodied Internet that you are inside of,” he said during a conference call Wednesday following Facebook’s mixed second-quarter results.
The company’s Oculus division is a pioneer in augmented and virtual reality headsets and content and it’s growing. Zuckerberg mentioned the Metaverse this week, noting plans to hire a team to develop it. But today Zuckerberg took most of the call to describe VR as Facebook’s future, “the ultimate expression of social technology” and something he’s “dreamed of building since way before I started Facebook that’s only starting to come into focus now.”
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He called the Metaverse “the next generation of the Internet and the next chapter of us as a company” and said people will eventually transition “from seeing us as a social media company, to seeing us as a Metaverse company.”
Execs declined to quantify the annual investment beyond “billions.”
Zuckerberg said no one company can develop it by themselves, that it’s an ecosystem requiring new protocols, new payment systems — basically a new everything — and will create a lot of economic value.
Facebook’s next product launch is smart glasses with Luxottica and Ray-Ban, on the way to full AR glasses in the future. But Zuckerberg stressed that his Metaverse isn’t aimed at selling expensive gear at a big premium but building a social product for hundreds of millions of people. Facebook has close to three billion monthly active users globally.
He said the Metaverse would be accessible from all devices and apps. Users can play games, work, create with friends and do everything they do on the Internet today “as well as some things that don’t make sense on the Internet today, like dancing.”
The idea is to feel “that you are really there with someone else,” creating entirely new experiences and economic opportunities. He said commerce will become increasingly important on Facebook as it builds up to the Metaverse.
Wall Street analysts — a very ‘what can you do for me now’ group that wasn’t overly impressed by the latest quarterly results, seemed somewhat nonplussed by the Metaverse, attempting to get a picture of how much it will cost and its specific business model. One asked if $5 billion-a-year in investment was a good ballpark. In one sense, yes, said Facebook CFO David Wehner, noting, “We said billions, and your estimate is billions.”