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Why Mark Zuckerberg and Meta want to build AR’s iPhone

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Thanks to The edges Alex Heath, we now know more about Meta’s plans to shape the Metaverse by building its own wildly ambitious augmented reality hardware.

Heath’s article “Augmented Reality by Mark Zuckerberg‘ includes two code-named products. “Project Nazere” is high-end AR glasses that don’t require a smartphone, with the first version shipping in 2024, followed by updated ones in 2026 and 2028. Also due in 2024 is “Hypernova”, more economical glasses-thinking AR glasses that piggyback the connectivity and computing power of a smartphone.

The piece is packed with technical details, like Nazere’s use of custom waveguides and micro-LED projectors to fuse your take on the real with a digital overlay. Both Nazere and Hypernova will reportedly work with a wrist device that uses differential electromyography to detect electrical neurons and provide input that feels like mind control. (More than a year ago my colleague Mark Sullivan wrote about a preview of this technology.)

But among all the details of Heath’s story, what’s also striking is the discussion of how these planned products will lead to Meta’s ultimate goals. They are of course an extension of Mark Zuckerberg’s hopes, dreams and aspirations:

If the AR glasses and the other futuristic hardware that Meta builds eventually catch on, they could cast a new light on the company, and by extension, Zuckerberg. “Zuck’s ego is intertwined with [the glasses]’ a former employee who worked on the project tells me. “He wants it to be an iPhone moment.”

Everyone is entitled to their own definition of an “iPhone moment”. It is arguably a truly groundbreaking product – not necessarily the first in its field, but an unprecedented blockbuster that defines the category by making it accessible to the masses. Something like the iPhone.

For a tech CEO like Zuckerberg, creating an iPhone moment isn’t just about selling something hugely successful; it also offers full control over an ecosystem. In this way, a company can determine its own destiny in a way it could never do by building on someone else’s platform.

Zuckerberg has long been bothered by the fact that Facebook/Meta’s products have historically stood on top of environments operated by other companies such as Apple and Google. I know this because he told me so himself.

One of my big regrets is that Facebook didn’t have a great opportunity to shape the mobile operating system ecosystem.”

Mark Zuckerberg, 2015

Back in 2015, towards the end of the day when Facebook seemed like an unstoppable phenomenon rather than a troubled giant, I interviewed Zuckerberg for a Fast company cover story. “One of my big regrets,” he said, “is that Facebook didn’t have much of a chance to shape the mobile operating system ecosystem.” The smartphone revolution had started before Facebook was big enough to build its own platform, and it as mere renter – albeit a remarkably popular one – on iPhones and Android phones. (The company’s attempt to regain some control over the experience with an Android interface called Facebook Home became one of its attempts the most iconic flops.)

Ever since Zuckerberg expressed that disappointment to me, he’s only had more reason to be frustrated because his company doesn’t have overall authority over the experiences it creates. Exhibit A: Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature, which presents iPhone users with a dialog box to choose whether or not an app can track them. The most are sign out, a move that hits the heart of Meta’s targeted advertising business. In February when Meta said so ATT could cost $10 billion in lost revenue in 2022The result was a stock collapse of historic proportions.

When Meta’s AR glasses launch, it’s entirely possible that their main competition will be . . . Apple AR glasses. Is it any wonder Zuckerberg is hoping Meta and not Apple will develop AR’s iPhone?

Not many iPhones

Thing is, we can’t be sure if Meta, Apple, or anyone else will be successful in conjuring an iPhone moment for AR. In the 15 years since the smartphone debuted, even Apple’s biggest product launches — like the iPad and Apple Watch — have not been nearly as transformative for the company, industry, or society. There weren’t too many iPhone-like moments In front the iPhone joined in too: obvious candidates include the releases of the first IBM PC in 1981, Windows 95 in 1995, and the first iPod in 2001.

When I spoke to Zuckerberg in 2015, he expressed his desire to rebuild a platform from the ground up in the context of Facebook’s recent $2 billion acquisition of virtual reality pioneer Oculus. Under Facebook/Meta ownership, Oculus became the dominant VR platform by any measure. According to IDC, Meta’s Quest 2 headset had 78% of the VR market last year, with sales of 8.7 million units. And Quest headset owners have spent a total of $1 billion on games and other content.

But VR still hasn’t had its iPhone moment if that means a product becoming a truly ubiquitous part of modern life. Perhaps that helps explain why a few years ago Facebook went all out on the Metaverse – a concept that’s essentially a hybrid of VR and AR and is still so raw that few expect it to be anytime soon iPhone moment will have .

Something else about the iPhone moments: They are not neat little turning points, but often play out over years. That was even true of the iPhone itself, which early sales were felt a bit disappointing and which not Get the essential App Store to 18 months after the announcement of the first iPhone. Then there’s the iPod, which didn’t reach its full potential until Apple made it compatible with Windows in 2002 and opened a music download store in 2003. Did I mention that Windows 95 shipped a decade after the first version of the operating system?

Given that Meta is already planning its AR roadmap to at least 2028 and has said so His metaverse vision requires 10 to 15 years of work, it understands that it is on an epic journey with many milestones. That means it could be years before anyone knows if Zuckerberg will finally quench his yen to shape the tech industry’s next big thing. Even infinite patience and willingness to do so invest billions of dollars nothing at all.

https://www.fastcompany.com/90741172/mark-zuckerberg-meta-ar-glasses-nazere-hypernova?partner=feedburner&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=feedburner+fastcompany&utm_content=feedburner Why Mark Zuckerberg and Meta want to build AR’s iPhone

JACLYN DIAZ

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