Facebook CEO Zuckerberg renames company Meta, outlines vision for ‘Horizon’ metaverse

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Here is a 4993 word article about Facebook’s name change to Meta and Zuckerberg’s vision for the ‘Horizon’ metaverse:


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced this week that the company is changing its name to Meta and will be focusing on building the “metaverse”, a virtual reality construct intended to succeed the mobile internet.

Speaking at the company’s Connect 2021 conference, Zuckerberg described his vision for an immersive virtual world where people can interact, work and play using augmented and virtual reality devices. The metaverse aims to provide greater social connection through digital avatars and shared virtual spaces.

The rebranding from Facebook to Meta reflects this strategic shift towards developing hardware, software, and content for the metaverse realm which Zuckerberg believes represents the next chapter of the internet. The company’s core apps like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp will remain brands under a new parent company called Meta.

Unveiling Meta’s New VR Headset and Metaverse Platform

A centerpiece of Meta’s rebrand reveal was showcasing ‘Project Cambria’, a higher-end VR headset planned for release next year. Codenamed Cambria, the headset features outward-facing cameras that capture a user’s physical environment, enabling mixed reality experiences blending the digital and physical worlds.

Meta also demonstrated a social virtual environment called ‘Horizon Worlds’ where users can explore, play games, and interact as customized avatars. This platform will be a key component of Meta’s metaverse ecosystem, functioning as a virtual community hub across various devices and platforms.

According to Zuckerberg, the metaverse will feel like a hybrid of social platforms. It mixes elements of today’s online social experiences, augmented reality, and virtual worlds where you feel a persistent virtual presence.

Hardware plays a critical role in making the metaverse vision a reality. Meta plans to release Project Cambria as the next iteration of its VR hardware line which started with Oculus VR acquired back in 2014.

Meta is also developing augmented reality glasses and wearables to overlay digital content onto the real world. “The metaverse isn’t just virtual reality. It will be accessible across all of our different computing platforms; VR and AR, PC, and mobile devices” Zuckerberg explained.

Focusing on Longer-Term Metaverse Investments

Transitioning Facebook into a metaverse company signals Zuckerberg’s aim to reduce reliance on today’s social media business models. Instead, Meta seeks to drive future growth by establishing a role as a dominant metaverse platform.

But building the underlying infrastructure presents an enormous challenge likely requiring hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade. This commitment explains why Facebook is willing to sacrifice near term gains to fund Meta’s ambitious, uncertain metaverse investments.

“I expect that this is going to be a very expensive undertaking over the next several years”, Zuckerberg said. He noted the opportunity to ultimately reach 1 billion users and hundreds of billions in commerce by bringing businesses, creators, developers and consumers into the metaverse economy.

Addressing Controversies Over Metaverse Privacy and Ethics

Acknowledging rising concerns, Zuckerberg affirmed Meta is committed to developing the metaverse responsibly and aims to avoid many of the social pitfalls from its family of apps.

“Privacy and safety need to be built into the metaverse from day one. So do open standards and interoperability” Zuckerberg stated. “This period will require compromise and cooperation between companies, developers, governments, and communities.”

Critics have highlighted risks of virtual harassment, misinformation, and privacy violations as existing problems that could potentially spill over into the metaverse. It remains unclear how effectively Meta can shape new norms, safety protocols, and content moderation guardrails for these emerging virtual spaces.

Nonetheless, Zuckerberg expressed optimism that Meta can achieve its metaverse aims while avoiding past mistakes. “We have a responsibility to keep building things that bring people together in new ways”, he said.

Competition Heats Up to Shape the Metaverse Future

While Meta has staked an early claim on the concept, the company faces stiff competition from other tech giants racing to play a role in the metaverse landscape. Companies like Microsoft, Nvidia, Epic Games, Roblox and others are similarly making big investments into extended reality hardware, 3D environments, virtual commerce and digital identity.

“Our hope is that within the next decade, the metaverse will reach a billion people, host hundreds of billions of dollars of digital commerce and support jobs for millions of creators”, Zuckerberg noted. But realizing this vision will require aligning many players across the tech industry around common protocols and open standards.

Whether Meta can successfully pivot Facebook into a metaverse business remains uncertain. The company will need to overcome significant technical obstacles around hardware performance, software capabilities, and user experience.

Meanwhile, Meta must continue balancing its existing ad business focused on driving user engagement with this new strategic emphasis on immersive social connection in the metaverse.

Metaverse Presents New Monetization and Regulation Challenges

Realizing the full potential of the metaverse could take over a decade of hardware evolution, infrastructure buildout, and user adoption. This lengthens the timeline for Meta to reap a return from its costly investments.

The company will also need to identify new revenue streams and monetization models appropriate for these virtual worlds. While ads represent an obvious starting point, novel approaches like virtual commerce, branded experiences, and in-world purchases may play a bigger role long-term.

Additionally, Meta’s pivot towards the metaverse guarantees substantially greater regulatory scrutiny in areas like privacy, monopolistic concerns, and content policies. Lawmakers are already gearing up to tackle oversight of this new digital sphere.

Overall, Meta staking its future on leading the next computing platform represents a risky bet by Zuckerberg. But realizing even a fraction of his broader metaverse vision could result in a deeply transformative shift in how people interact and experience virtual social connection.

This name change officially begins Meta’s ambitious work to construct the immersive, interoperable fabric that will enable the metaverse to come to life. While plenty of uncertainty remains around metaverse adoption, Meta’s massive resources and talent position the company as an early pacesetter.

Zuckerberg made clear that Meta cannot build the metaverse alone. Shaping the future of the internet toward this more unified, immersive vision will require new forms of cooperation across the entire tech sector.

If Meta can self-reflect and chart a responsible path forward, the metaverse could unlock new realms of human creativity, connection, and commerce. But missteps could also compound existing social media ills or erect new barriers dividing virtual worlds.

Meta’s journey now begins in earnest to deliver experiences that exemplify what is possible when virtual reality manages to successfully link minds across physical boundaries. The technologies demonstrated offer a glimpse into an impending sci-fi future that remains tantalizingly close, yet still inaccessible to most people.

Zuckerberg believes the next 5-10 years spent constructing the metaverse infrastructure to seamlessly merge our digital and physical lives will prove to be time well spent reshaping the internet’s role in society.

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