The smart money was on ‘Meta’ as Facebook’s choice of new name from as soon as we heard about the rebrand last week. And yesterday Mark Zuckerberg made it official.
It’s easy to say ‘this is just a distraction from all the controversy it’s facing’ but while that’s true in the short term, this really is mainly about the company’s next chapter.
The rebrand was announced during the AR and VR focused Connect event, which is traditionally more about product announcements and tools for developers, but was this year more of a statement about where
Meta sees its future: helping to build a metaverse in which you’ll “socialize, learn, collaborate and play in ways that go beyond what’s possible today.” They even want you to work out in VR
And Meta isn’t going in lightly on its new mission. It said earlier in the week that it plans to invest around $10bn
in metaverse initiatives.
It’s important for Meta that the public doesn’t see the metaverse as being mainly a gaming thing, which could be why it’s ditching the Oculus brand. Look out for ‘Meta Quest
’ from next year.
For more on Mark Zuckerberg’s thoughts on Meta and the metaverse, it’s worth reading his interviews with The Verge
Of course, over on Twitter, it was open season
for Meta snark (when is it not?). Even Twitter’s own CEO
got in on the action. Interestingly, Twitter has its own ‘META’ team
focused on (ironically, given this week’s ‘The Facebook Papers’ bad press) Machine Learning, Ethics, Transparency and Accountability.
We’re still years away from the vision of the metaverse we saw yesterday, but this is new land for Facebook to stake a claim in. The fact Nick Clegg made an appearance in the video for a section about trust and safety shows that the company wants to avoid its missteps and bad press of the past in this new chapter.
Still, its plans to help other companies develop the metaverse sure sounds a lot like the way it gained dominance of ‘web 2.0’ by helping developers add social features to their apps. Regulators and the media will be looking a lot more carefully this time, and it’s unclear if Zuckerberg can pull off the same feat twice.