Editor’s note: Recently, Facebook’s strategy of changing its name to “Meta Universe” has become a major issue. The motive for the social media giant’s name change has aroused widespread speculation. Marketing strategy? Divert attention? Get rid of Apple and Google ? Get rid of supervision? In this article, the author made his own analysis. This article comes from the compilation.
Image via Unsplash | Photography Roman Martyniuk
Earlier, when Zuckerberg appeared at live streaming virtual reality broadcasts and augmented reality (Facebook Connect) conferences, he looked as if he was not worried.
During the period, he did not mention employee whistleblowing, resignation, regulatory anger, crisis of trust and other issues. Instead, he happily expounded his vision for the “meta universe”, that is, Facebook’s immersive virtual environment. Although most people still call this platform Facebook, it is undeniable that Metaverse is being built little by little.
Facebook’s rebranding announcement formally confirmed its transformation strategy over the years. The company’s reality laboratory department has expanded to thousands of people (this number is about twice that of Twitter), specializes in virtual reality projects, and plans to recruit thousands of people in Europe. Earlier, the company had announced that it would invest about US$10 billion in the field of Metaverse this year, and it has been acquiring start-up companies in the field of virtual reality. This series of actions can be regarded as a battle for land in the field of “metauniverse”.
What is “meta universe”
Regarding the “meta universe” strategy, people will ask a lot of questions. The most basic question may be “what is a meta universe” and what the Facebook version of the meta universe will look like.
At the meeting on Thursday, Zuckerberg answered some of the questions. From his description, the meta universe is a clean, well-lit virtual world. Initially, it was connected through virtual reality hardware. Later, people will have more advanced body sensors, and they can play virtual games and participate in this universe. Virtual concerts, purchasing virtual goods, collecting virtual artworks, etc. People can and avatar friends with fancy-dress ball, or participate in virtual conference.
This vision of an immersive experience in the digital world is not new—it was sketched by science fiction writer Neal Stephenson more than 30 years ago—but Zuckerberg made a bet and thought It will become a reality. He believes that “Meta Universe” will be the “successor” of the Internet.
The second question is obviously: Does the meta-universe really work?
We obviously cannot answer yes or no with certainty, although this is doubtful in my eyes. In my opinion, the biggest breakthrough for a clumsy organization like Facebook in the past decade is to buy competitor apps or copy their functions, rather than develop their own original ideas, so it is difficult to create a person who is truly willing to spend time immersing. The digital world among them.
In my opinion, the most interesting question should be: Why did Zuckerberg do this? After all, he didn’t want to carry out a large-scale corporate reorganization, nor did he want to make his CEO’s job easier (Google officially changed its name to Alphabet in 2015, while CEO Larry Page transferred power). Some people speculate that Facebook’s name change was to divert the public’s attention from its recent scandals, but the idea that the name change alone can reduce public criticism is obviously naive.
Meta universe: Facebook may get rid of the four major problems with it
To understand why Zuckerberg is very concerned about this strategy, we can look at how Metaverse will help Facebook solve the four thorny problems.
First of all, as I wrote before, Facebook’s business as a core social media is declining. The new trend is that users abandon it and turn to more “cool” apps such as TikTok and Snapchat. Although the news that Facebook is harmful to young people has not had an impact on the company’s finances, the evidence that Instagram (a Facebook product) damages the attention of young people is clearly harmful to their reputation.
If this trend continues, then in the next few years, Facebook’s outcome will be bleak-it will become a quagmire dominated by extremism and baby boomers, rather than the flagship product and platform the company hopes for. Zuckerberg has clearly stated that the new strategy will be to attract young people or retain young users.
If Metaverse allows young people to wander around on Facebook wearing virtual reality devices instead of watching Tik Tok’s short videos on their phones, then its user churn problem can be effectively solved.
Facebook’s launch of the meta-universe project can also solve platform risks. For years, Zuckerberg has been annoyed that Facebook runs on iOS and Android, and companies such as Apple have different priorities than Facebook. For example, the “App Tracking Transparency” regulations introduced by Apple this year dealt a blow to Facebook’s advertising business, making it more difficult for the company to collect user data. If smartphones are still the main way people interact online, then Facebook will never be able to control its own destiny.
Since 2015, Zuckerberg has been talking about the strategic interests of Metaverse. He once wrote to his deputy and said: “We need to build a major platform and important applications to improve our strategic position on the next platform.”
If the meta-universe strategy works, then it can guide Facebook users to platforms that they own-such as Oculus, instead of relying on Apple and Google as they are now, worrying about being kicked out of the app store anytime, anywhere, or Have to comply with the norms they set. This also means that when the Metaverse app starts charging for virtual clothing, it does not need to pay 30% of the fees to any platform. Zuckerberg vaguely criticized Apple and Google at the Thursday meeting, saying that their mobile application environment is stifling innovation and hindering the entire Internet economy.
Picture from Unsplash｜ Photography James Yarema
The third risk facing Facebook is regulatory risk. Although there is no danger of being dismantled, regulators are showing growing dissatisfaction with Facebook and taking action to prevent its development. For example, regulators will enact new privacy laws or prevent it from acquiring the next Instagram.
Therefore, it is understandable for Facebook to place bets in certain areas, and the field of virtual reality is currently unlikely to be regulated. In addition, due to regulatory issues and political issues Facebook has bundled together, will lead the user to a not partisan, more moderate, more friendly element of the universe would be a good strategy – now, political figures clearly not “Entering” the meta universe.
The fourth trouble is Facebook’s many mistakes and scandals. Over the years, anything Facebook has done—even projects unrelated to social networks, such as the introduction of cryptocurrency wallets—may become a scandal. In view of the fact that dozens of media are still digging deep into it, more scandals may break out in the future.
Zuckerberg’s new public image is similar to the “all-encompassing futurist”. He said that Facebook was not renamed to get rid of the negative image, but it is clear that this brand has produced undesirable consequences. The morale of the Facebook team is low and it is difficult to attract talented employees. Its partnership with partners deteriorated, advertisers were lost, and founder Zuckerberg became a notorious existence.
The meta universe cannot solve the problem overnight
Of course, constructing the meta-universe will not solve these problems overnight, and it may not solve any of the above problems. In fact, if Facebook focuses on solving the problems of existing products in the next few years, it will not have new regulatory issues.
It is wrong to think that Facebook’s meta-universe is just a marketing gimmick to increase the company’s influence-although it does increase influence. In fact, Zuckerberg’s meta-universe will usher in a new era, an era in which Facebook’s influence will be extended to new types of culture, communication, and business. If unsuccessful, people will remember this desperate and costly old social media struggle, and remember how it diverts attention from pressing social issues.
Having said that, although this is not just a marketing, for Zuckerberg, Metaverse is indeed a breakthrough to get rid of the chaotic and troublesome status quo, allowing it to break ground in a new, uncontaminated world.
No wonder Zuckerberg laughed so happily in meetings.
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