The first step in the new beyond: The launch of Meta

The rebranding of the year has begun, as Mark Zuckerberg just announced the launch of Meta, a new company brand that will embody all the apps and online social experiences offered by Facebook, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram, creating the metaverse, accessible to people around the world via wearable smart glasses and unique devices specially designed for Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality.

As stated by the company founder, Meta’s focus will be to “bring the metaverse to life and help people connect, find communities and grow businesses“. It’s Zuckerberg’s move towards the next chapter of his company, as he called it, aiming to upgrade the current online social interactions by creating a completely immersive experience, where the participant is no longer just a simple viewer, but an actual part of the action.

Video Source: Youtube Meta

The rebrand is part of a bigger strategy currently implemented by the billionaire to shift gears away from being known as just a social media company and focus on creating a new, more meaningful legacy. You can access more about Zuckerberg’s vision by checking out the official launch letter of Meta or you can view the launch event organized at the Facebook Conference: Connect 2021.

On paper, if you listen to what Zuckerberg says, it all sounds ideal: the much-anticipated birth of a new world, where digital and human finally become connected, where distance is no longer an issue as you can jump from a continent to another with a switch of a button, where the best education out there is no longer a privilege but an accessible good, where you can work, meet friends, shop, create and live while not leaving the comfortable confines of your house. But is this really what people want, or is it just something that Zuckerberg is using the deflect attention from the mishaps and failures of Facebook? The number of scandals that the company has been through in recent years is staggering. We all remember the congressional hearings that showed that Facebook products harm kids and democracy. We all were shocked (some less than others) by the findings of the Wall Street Journal investigation – The Facebook files, which proved that the company is well aware of the ill effects of their social media platforms, but chooses to hide research and does nothing to change its policy for the sake of profit. Not to mention that the controversies related to the obscure activities of the company were further exposed in the recent Facebook Papers.

So, some might wonder, is this is just a ploy to sell a vision for a “future made by us all“, only so that Facebook can continue its activity under the premise that it has completely changed its dark ways, while, in fact, doing nothing? Bear in mind, even after listening to Zuckerberg’s well-written and polished speech, it is not at all clear how the metaverse will function. Let’s not forget, Google tried something similar with it’s Augmented and Virtual Reality, yet it did not catch on at a global scale in such a way that reshapes industries, businesses and lives, as Facebook hopes to do now. How? It remains unclear as the details about how this metaverse will work in practice have not been yet disclosed. What we know so far is that the company aims to offer a linked collection of virtual-reality programs like Workrooms and existing Oculus apps in an ambiguous 3-D space.

The metaverse essentially is a massive virtual world that millions of people can access in real-time using avatars. It can be used to hold virtual meetings or buy virtual land and clothing or other digital assets, often paying with cryptocurrencies.

The social network isn’t the only one working on the metaverse, and Facebook acknowledged that no single company will own and operate it. Other players include Fortnite maker Epic Games, which has raised $1 billion from investors to help with its long-term plans for building the metaverse.

Apps and companies evolve and Facebook has been a market leader in the last decade, as reports show, so they have invested a lot in research and development building up to this new launch. Another thing worth mentioning that might have impacted its decision to rebrand, beyond all the scandal issues, is its need to put a stop to its iOS and Android dependency. Remember back in October 2019 when Apple threatened to pull Facebook and Instagram from its App Store because of a BBC report, showing domestic workers being illegally bought and sold online in a booming black market. Some of the trade was carried out on Facebook-owned Instagram, where posts were promoted via algorithm-boosted hashtags, and sales negotiated via private messages. This scandal caused a new rift in society and extensive political reactions around the globe, everyone asking that Google, Apple, Facebook or any other companies that are hosting apps like these, be held accountable for their activities, influences and overall social impact. In the same year as the BBC report, Facebook announced it “started the journey of developing a company brand to be clearer with people when products are from Facebook“. With the launch of Meta, Andrew Bosworth (Boz), VP of AR & VR at Facebook App highlighted: “We’re bringing our brands and products closer to Meta, which is the umbrella for all our products and services. When people buy our products, we want them to clearly understand that all of these devices come from Meta and ladder up to our metaverse vision. That’s why we’re evolving our brand across our current lines of hardware in-market, as well as for all future products, in order to bring more consistency across the portfolio and more transparency to consumers“.

In terms of business, the Facebook founder announced that their corporate structure is not changing; however, the way they will report on their financials will. Starting with the results for the fourth quarter of 2021, the company plans to report on two operating segments: Family of Apps and Reality Labs. This is a change that aims to ensure a higher transparency for the company’s activities.

Thus, is this Zuckerberg’s stratagem to make sure his company endures in time no matter what? I guess we will see.

Social media is and will undoubtedly be a massive part of our lives, so if we ponder a bit on Zuckerberg’s public vision of the metaverse is sounds breathtaking if actually implemented. Plus, it will impact economies and shape people’s lives as Facebook plans to hire 10,000 resourceful minds in Europe to build the virtual reality-based metaverse, over the next five years, while also creating a long-standing European presence. As Zuckerberg stated: “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 and developers”.

All in all, what will happen and how the metaverse will develop, unfold and get to be used is unsure, but this is definitely a thing worth watching. The good, the bad and the ugly details of the industry will surely be on all our radars and maybe sooner than we think, we will all be able to meet in the metaverse in a blink of an eye. Or as Zuckerberg himself underlined the “word meta comes from the Greek word meaning beyond. For me, it symbolizes that there is always more to build, and there is always a next chapter to the story“.

So, let get ready for that chapter together!

Check out more about Zuckerberg’s metaverse on their official webpage or read the interview he offered for The Verge. For more articles likes these, keep following our page & social media platforms.