Metaverse into reverse: the new technology taking a tumble

Attempts to drum up excitement for the metaverse risk falling flat – even with Apple’s new product launch. When will the workforce show interest in the tool touted as the future of the workplace?

One day we’ll all be working, socialising and living in the metaverse. This might be the message of the big technology companies in Silicon Valley, but does this idea of the future actually appeal to most people?

That’s the question technology investors have been left asking themselves as the mass exodus to the metaverse that they have been hotly anticipating doesn’t appear to be starting any time soon.

Whether you think that the metaverse is an exciting opportunity or a sci-fi invention by out-of-touch computer geeks, it’s hard to ignore the recent downturn in interest and financial return. Companies like Meta – whose name change from Facebook was designed to announce its faith in the  metaverse – have in poured billions of dollars but to what avail?

Not close to targets

According to The Wall Street Journal, Meta’s flagship consumer metaverse Horizon Worlds is not even close to reaching targets for the number of users and the number of regular players are slowly dwindling as the world fails to sustain their interest. And with The New York Times reporting that Meta’s stock has experienced a 26 per cent drop in the last few months, excessive spending on the metaverse without any real interest from consumers could be dragging the company down.

Then there is the Apple Vision Pro, an augmented reality headset from Apple with only a two-hour battery life and a steep price point – it retails at £2,849. This new headset certainly isn’t for everyone, and it appears a bold move given the recent failure of the metaverse to live up to expectations and the challenging economic conditions of recent months.

Augmented reality headset

The headset is described by Apple as a technology that allows you to blend the reality of your surroundings with the online world, using your hands, eyes and voice to control the virtual overlay. This headset is not only advertised for watching films and gaming, but also for helping you manage multiple screens at work, giving you a virtual work-from-home set up that can be personalised to your preferences.

Apple’s turn towards the metaverse is the culmination of a long-predicted series of investments, CB Insights suggests that Apple has been investing in VR and AR for more than 10 years and has been buying-up smaller, innovative developers in the space for years in order to be ahead of the trend.

While Apple might not be shouting from the rooftops about its love for the metaverse like Meta, it has nevertheless invested millions into the technology. But when even the most basic equipment required to join the metaverse is prohibitively expensive, are people really going to be splurging on a high-tech toy amid a cost of living crisis?

‘We might think more about how in-person interaction might function in our working lives…’

So, for the workplace, it’s as we were for now. Only major consultancy and technology firms appear to have  already invested in metaverse technology for their employees. But it does mean that when we look to the future, we might think more about how in-person interaction might function in our day-to-day working lives, rather than looking to digital ways of socialising and meeting clients.

Read more about the technology trends changing how we view the future of work in WORKTECH Academy’s latest Technology Round-up, in our premium content Innovation Zone for members here.

Become a member of WORKTECH Academy here.

Echo Callaghan is an interdisciplinary researcher and writer with WORKTECH Academy. She holds degrees from the University of York and Trinity College Dublin.
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