Mark Zuckerberg is set to unveil Meta’s new “Project Cambria” virtual reality headset at a developer conference this week – hardware designed to allow users to enter its $10 billion metaverse and the “Horizon Worlds” virtual reality social platform.
The problem is that Horizon Worlds remains buggy and unpopular, even among its own staff. The issues are so bad that Meta has put a “quality lockdown” for the rest of 2022 while it attempts to fix the app.
Add to this the public relations disaster, which was Zuckerberg’s creepy metaverse avatar unveiling and subsequently rushed update, and it’s not been a great first year for Meta.
The company’s share price has crashed from $316 on the day Facebook renamed Meta to around $133 a share now – a catastrophic plummet of 58%.
The stakes are very high for Meta, which is facing stiff competition from TikTok (drawing away millions of younger users) and the massive financial hit it took when Apple made privacy changes to its iOS system that allowed users to block ad tracking – Meta makes 98% of its revenue from advertising.
For Meta to succeed, it will have to persuade software developers that it’s worth their while to build for the metaverse and that there’s an audience waiting to be serviced by it.
Presently that audience is not there, and given the raft of bad reviews and publicity mistakes made so far, it will not be any time soon.