Meta has announced some significant modifications to its product roadmap in the face of growing prices and a tightening economy, with several of its hardware initiatives being put on hold or delayed for the time being.
Meta, according to numerous sources, is:
- Halting the development of its dual camera smartwatch project
- Ceasing production of its Portal smart display device as a consumer product (Portal will still be developed as a business connection tool)
- Delaying the launch of its coming AR glasses product, which had been scheduled for release in 2024
The adjustments have a substantial impact on Meta's long-term objectives, which include the opening of retail outlets as part of a larger push into consumer tech products that extends beyond its social platform beginnings. Meta has also recently slowed down its audio social advancements, and various other projects are being evaluated.
As it concentrates on establishing its metaverse-aligned efforts, the corporation has been attempting to cut expenses while also coping with the compounding effects of Apple's new data privacy regulations. Apple's latest ATT upgrades, which prompt users to opt in or out of data tracking, are expected to cost the company $10 billion in lost ad dollars by 2022, according to Meta last year. In addition, Meta's Reality Labs segment reported a $10 billion operating loss for FY 2021.
The disclosures frightened the market, sending Meta shares plunging, which they have yet to recover from. These recent product roadmap updates are part of Meta's larger measures to maintain stability in the face of impending economic instability, as well as job reductions and delays in various divisions.
This isn't the only social media outlet in the same situation. Due to a macroeconomic climate that has deteriorated farther and faster than anticipated,' Snapchat issued a profit warning last month, stating that its Q2 revenue was unlikely to match the expectations it had stated just a month prior. Twitter is canceling job offers and purging its top ranks, while ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, has seen its stock value plummet by $100 billion in the last year.
Increased regulation, a slowing economy, and broader economic constraints are making it difficult for tech platforms to make large bets, so they're scaling back their ambitions to expand and evolve into new sectors.
What has Meta said?
Of course, Meta has already made this a priority, and it is eager to continue on its route to the metaverse by increasing the adoption of VR headsets and other aligned technologies.
As a result, it isn't completely abandoning hardware development.
As Meta CTO Andrew Bosworth points out:
Because Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has stated that he feels a "duty" to invest in the metaverse shift, it's unlikely that Meta would abandon that priority very soon. However, these fresh statements signal a period of pain for the industry, implying that the Q2 results period may not be very enjoyable for most.
What do we think?
In light of recent allegations against Meta - deeming the company to be a “cesspool of toxic content”, we can’t help but wonder whether the delays in these product launches aren’t so much related to the economic crisis - as they are the ethical one.
As more information and research about Meta's virtual reality platform, Horizon Worlds, becomes available, it's becoming clear that Zuckerberg's strategy could aggravate the online harmful effects and human rights abuses that the company is failing to address on its existing platforms - harming communities while also damaging the company. Given Meta's failure to monitor content on its other platforms, it's predictable that content moderation on its metaverse platforms is already severely behind. Horizon Worlds has grown into a breeding ground for hazardous content despite having only 300,000 users.
This will only get worse unless immediate action is taken. The metaverse is highly likely to spiral into a darker, more toxic environment unless policymakers hold Meta accountable for the abuses uncovered on its platforms, lessen its influence over technological companies, and rein in its relentless data-gathering activities.