The idea behind Facebook’s Metaverse is brilliant. It truly is. But I find it incredibly difficult to believe hordes of people would buy Facebook’s headsets with a 1080p camera and stereo mic. Personally, I wouldn’t like to meet with people wearing any data harvesters from Facebook on their bodies. By wearing Facebook’s products, you surrender your privacy. Simple as that.
I really don’t want to talk about Zuckerberg’s latest project because I only give him free publicity by doing so. But it’s essential to make my point.
Metaverse is ambitious. In fact, too ambitious. Facebook believes they can build the whole world right away, and to be fair, they are delusional. Let’s assume Metaverse exists for a second, though. The problem of this digital world is three-fold. Firstly, as a developer, you don’t know anything about writing programs that would run on Metaverse. Secondly, the programming language lacks libraries and frameworks to enable developers to create apps efficiently. Thirdly, there’s no user base with devices. Zero. Facebook sold like a dozen oculus sets, but that’s it.
In short, sure, the hype factor is here, and everyone is excited about Metaverse. But still, without any of the above three aspects, Metaverse doesn’t exist outside of Facebook’s marketing team.
On the other side of the “spectrum” are Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Apple is told to release its next “big thing” in the next year. The next big thing will be either a VR or AR headset. No matter which headset Apple will introduce, Apple’s digital world will outgrow Facebook’s Metaverse from day one.
The graph above illustrates the projection of sales of AR glasses in the upcoming three years. As you can see, it’s forecasted that Apple will sell almost five times more units than Facebook will, only in the first year. What’s more, in 2025, Facebook is predicted to be the second smallest player on the market.
The reason Apple will destroy the competition lies in the above three factors that are absolutely essential for creating the digital universe. And Apple, one year before the predicted release of AR glasses, already fulfills 3 out of 3 factors.
Around six years ago, Apple introduced its new programming language – check. In 2017, they released ARKit – a set of APIs, libraries, and frameworks for working with AR objects and AR realties – check. And lastly, Apple has been building a user base since the day iPhone launched (now standing at whopping 900 million active iPhones) – check. And a great majority of the active iPhones can run AR apps.
That gives Apple essentially all there is to dominate the AR market overnight by simply pushing a software update. What’s more, the developer base already knows the process of developing AR apps for iOS.
Now let’s talk about another critical aspect – computing power. To run AR programs, you need enormous computing power. The hardware must run tens of billions of operations every second, fit in a small box, and be highly energy-efficient (meaning how many operations you can make out of a battery charge). And wow, what a surprise! For more than ten years, Apple has been developing precisely these kinds of chips. The ones that are both extremely energy efficient and have unmatched performance. This fact already creates a tremendously significant competitive advantage over Facebook.
Another significant aspect of AR is the number of use cases. With Facebook’s oculus, you can play games, call friends and watch some videos on youtube. I’d say that’s pretty limited. Thus, to survive, Metaverse will need to extend capabilities that will take time to develop. Apple will offer many more, besides the above use cases, such as maps, music, tv, podcasts, and fitness services from the launch day. So, the services that Apple offers are much more wide-ranging than Facebook’s offering.
This relatively long analysis was supposed to show you why Facebook’s Metaverse has no significant future and how their competition will relegate them to the background in the upcoming years. Facebook’s failure will lie in almost every area of creating the digital world, starting with the user base with digital-world-running capabilities, going through chip performance, and ending on limited use cases.
Of course, the subject of the digital world becomes much more complex when we start discussing the effects of living on the internet on the human psyche. For now, though, I wanted to focus only on the technological aspects of this matter.