Metaverse will be as important as smartphones, says Meta executive

How soon will that day arrive is the real question.
Ameya Paleja
Metaverse city and cyberpunk concept
Metaverse city and cyberpunk concept

Kinwun/iStock 

Meta's chief product officer, Chris Cox, has said that the company believes that the metaverse will become as essential as today's smartphone, Business Insider reported. Cox was speaking as part of the panel discussion held at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Meta is the new avatar of Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook that is looking to build the next generation of the internet. In October 2021, Zuckerberg announced, with much fanfare, the company's vision to build a new digital world where people will log in for work, communication, and entertainment.

A lot of companies followed suit, announcing their foray into the metaverse with real estate prices in the digital world touching sky-high prices. However, as 2022 progressed, the interest in the metaverse started waning.

What has Meta been up to?

Interesting Engineering has previously reported that Meta spent billions in 2022 on building its version of the metaverse and plans to spend even more in 2023. However, what the company has shown so far looks quite mediocre.

Cox, however, said that the company had spent the last eight years trying to build a virtual reality product that was "affordable, accessible, and impressive". The company has unveiled VR headsets that have made decent sales so far.

Cox added that Meta looked forward to users incorporating its products into "social experiences, fitness, gaming, medicine, drug development, and to design sneakers and cars," Business Insider said in its report. Thus one day, the "computing platform would become as important as the smartphone in our lifetimes."

Insider has previously reported that the company's singular focus on building the metaverse has sown discontent among its employees. There is a lack of coherent strategy on what needs to be done, and Zuckerberg is keen on going ahead with his plans, even after the company has laid off 11,000 employees so far.

Is Metaverse the future?

Cox's statement made in the presence of Neal Stephenson, the author who first coined the term metaverse, might resonate with other technology companies like Apple looking to replace the smartphone with advanced technologies.

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Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who was not part of the panel discussion, does not hold that view. Although Gates finds virtual reality revolutionary, he isn't convinced that it will bring about a major technological shift. In Gates and Microsoft's view, that will be done by artificial intelligence (AI).

Cox is also well aware of the shortcomings of the metaverse. Comparing it to the internet, Meta's Chief Product Officer said that the internet was very coherent with each other in many parts. It is easy to shift between apps without causing any confusion for the user. That interoperability, though did not exist for the metaverse.

Meta's challenges go way beyond interoperability when it comes to the metaverse. Having launched higher-priced versions of its virtual reality headset, it remains to be seen how the company will keep the technology affordable and accessible to all while still making money to keep investors happy.

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