Zuckerberg hails ‘metaverse’ as the ‘next big thing’ in technology

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has hailed the so-called “metaverse”, describing it as the “next generation of the internet and next chapter” for the company, he told investors in a conference call on Wednesday.

The metaverse, short for “meta-universe”, is a digital world where the real and virtual merge into a vision of science fiction and allows people to move between different devices and communicate in a virtual environment.

In practical terms, it refers to augmented- and virtual-reality products and services. The new market segment could generate “entirely new experiences and economic opportunities,” Zuckerberg told investors on Wednesday.

The Facebook boss’ comments followed a warning from the company that it expects revenue growth to “decelerate significantly” in the coming months.

‘The ultimate social technology’

Facebook said it expects Apple’s recent update to its iOS operating system to impact its ability to target adverts, adversely affecting ad revenue in the third quarter. The iPhone maker’s privacy changes make it harder for apps to track users and restrict advertisers from accessing valuable data for targeting ads.

Zuckerberg has in recent weeks shifted his focus to talking about the metaverse. On Monday, Facebook announced it would create a product team to work specifically on metaverse-related projects.

“In the coming years, I expect people will transition from seeing us primarily as a social media company to seeing us as a metaverse company,” Zuckerberg said.

“In many ways the metaverse is the ultimate expression of social technology.”

Zuckerberg told The Verge in an interview last week: “You can think about the ‘metaverse’ as an embodied internet, where instead of just viewing content — you are in it.”