We might not yet have reached the tipping point where VR becomes truly mainstream, but there will have been celebrations at Meta over the past few days after the Quest 2 proved to be a solid Christmas hit.
We have no sales data for the headset, but with a reported 2 million downloads
of the companion app since Christmas (including a US number one slot in the Apple App Store chart), it seems a lot of people have been tempted into the world of VR.
Perhaps they were lured by all the metaverse hype in recent weeks. And as CNBC reports, increased Quest 2 sales are good news for Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse plans, even if those plans are still a along way from being realised:
Today’s VR headsets from Meta are nowhere near as powerful or capable enough to enable Zuckerberg’s ultimate vision for the metaverse. But they can give you a taste of what’s possible. On top of that, Meta now has a lot more customers, giving it a chance to gather more data about how normal folks use virtual reality and tailor experiences to those tastes.
But as ‘metaverse’ becomes an ever more widely used phrase, being used to mean anything even slightly connected with VR, we’re at risk of Meta’s futuristic new name looking a bit out of date way before Zuckerberg has a chance to realise his vision.
As former Evernote chief Phil Libin (now running Mmhmm
) predicted to Casey Newton
this week: “It will be rare to see the word ‘metaverse’ used without sarcasm a year from now… Soon enough, the technology of things you strap onto your face will become good enough that ‘the hardware is not quite ready’ will no longer be an excuse, and the world will see the metaverse for what it is: mostly lame. The genuinely useful or entertaining parts of adjacent technologies, like augmented reality and multiplayer games, will distance themselves from metaverse hype and continue to flourish.”
The metaverse isn’t ready to deliver on all its hype, even if VR offers increasing amounts of things to do in the meantime.
VR has had more false starts than many technologies (as those old enough to remember hype about The Lawnmower Man 30 years ago will attest). When its time to shine in the mainstream truly comes, Meta might well find itself as a leader in the space.
But it’s far from certain we’ll be calling whatever emerges a ‘metaverse’, just as you aren’t reading this newsletter on the ‘information superhighway’.