BY Wesley Diphoko 3 MINUTE READ

Mark Zuckerberg has revived the metaverse concept. It’s a well-known fact he is not the originator of the concept. In our modern era, however, he’s one person who’s taking a lead in driving the technology industry toward thinking about the metaverse. All of a sudden companies have Chief Metaverse Officers, and metaverse strategies and the term is on everyone’s lips. His thoughts and plans about the metaverse are worth following and understanding. This is even more important in a world that claims a lot of things about the metaverse. Here’s the current state of the metaverse according to Zuck as presented at Meta Connect, the company’s annual developer conference.


What stood out from the presentation by Mark Zuckerberg at Connect is simply that we are still far away from experiencing a fully built metaverse. A year after Facebook was transformed to be Meta and to focus on the metaverse, it’s becoming clear that developing the metaverse is more complicated than thought. Zuckerberg has now realised the complexity of building the metaverse and he’s somehow scaling down in the short run. The approach seems to be the gradual introduction of metaverse elements. If you look very carefully when you use Facebook or Instagram when you comment your avatar (if you have one) is starting to appear. Zuckerberg has confirmed that we will start to see elements of the metaverse everywhere. As part of the announcement Meta also introduced the web version of the Horizon World (virtual world). Part of this means that you will now have an option to experience the virtual world without the need for a headset which is one of the difficult parts in the build-up to the metaverse. According to the Meta team, you will use the headset gear for immersive experiences. Worlds on the web are going to be the first way a lot of people around the world experience a virtual world. And while the web will not give the full VR experience, it will open it to an entirely new population of developers, creators, and people. The company showcased work they’re doing to bring Meta Horizon Worlds to other platforms, so a user can eventually pick up a phone or laptop and visit friends who are hanging out in VR and vice versa. If you’re watching a comedy show, for example, you’ll be able to send the link to your friends so they can join without a headset, no matter where they are.

In addition to dropping the metaverse in phases, Zuckerberg views early adopters as key users of the metaverse for now. Zuck has scaled down on his lofty vision of the metaverse where virtual reality-powered services would transform every aspect of people’s lives, from school environments to their family time. For now, he views corporate America as his target. He pitched corporate America on becoming one of the early adopters of this vision through the company’s new — and pricey — VR headset, the Quest Pro.

“As in-person work ramps up, we want everyone to feel like they’re present, even if they are not physically there,” Zuckerberg said. “For virtual reality to reach its full potential, we need to get to the point where the 200 million people who buy new PCs each year for work can do some or all of their work even better in the metaverse.”

Another interesting development around the metaverse is the open approach that Zuck is taking in the process of building. Meta announced that the Meta Quest Pro headset will offer new integrations with Microsoft products that are ubiquitous in the working world. The Microsoft Teams videoconferencing system will be available through Meta’s Horizon Workrooms, the company’s virtual reality space targeted for teams, the company announced, Microsoft 365 programs will also be offered.

“We are clearly going through a once-in-a-lifetime change in how we work,” said Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella, who appeared at the conference, “and every organisation today is looking for new ways to reconnect, re-energize their workforce at home, in the office and everywhere in between. That’s why we are bringing Microsoft Teams’ immersive meeting experience to Meta Quest.”

Zoom was also not left behind as avatars from the Meta world will start to appear on the platform that became popular during the pandemic.

The open approach is the correct one instead of a walled garden. Zuckerberg seems to understand that the metaverse needs more players than just the Meta team or the Meta version of the metaverse.

Facebook is also embarking on a process that seeks to free itself from depending on other companies for its business. Apple’s move on privacy around the ads platform has impacted Meta’s revenue. This highlighted the weakness of not owning hardware to serve consumers. This time around Zuckerberg is serious about building hardware while building the software. This is a wise move by the tech leader who built his wealth on software. Going forward, Zuck will both own the hardware and software, a Steve Jobs approach that allowed Apple to deploy great services.