Mark Zuckerberg is betting the future of Facebook on the metaverse

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Mark Zuckerberg is betting his company’s future on the metaverse, a virtual space in which people interact with each other through avatars and AR/VR technology, investing tens of billions of dollars in an attempt to build the platforms and hardware that capture a new generation of users. Now the question is whether Zuckerberg’s bid for the metaverse to be the future of the Internet, and his company, will succeed.

One of the biggest parts of this bet is Horizon, Meta’s software for people to socialize, work, and play in the metaverse. Think of Horizon as a cross between The Sims, Minecraft and Roblox, with users interacting through their avatars in virtual worlds they build.

“We’re seeing the younger generation spend a significant amount of time in virtual reality worlds today,” says Alex Schultz, CMO and head of analytics at Meta.

Right now, Horizon is only available on Meta’s Quest VR headset, though the company plans to bring it to mobile phones and the web soon. Meanwhile, there are still some major downsides to Horizon: awkward-looking avatars, unwanted interactions with strangers, and the discomfort of a VR headset weighing down your face.

The Verge’s Alex Heath and Recode’s Shirin Ghaffary strap on their headphones and enter Horizon in the final episode of the final season of Land of the Giants, Vox Media’s award-winning narrative podcast series about the most influential tech companies of our time. This season has been all about Facebook’s transformation into Meta, with interviews with senior executives, former employees and other experts.

Horizon is a key step in Zuckerberg’s push to develop the metaverse. But it is not his final vision. His company’s main goal is to release what he has called the “holy grail” device: lightweight augmented reality glasses that seamlessly overlay the digital world on the real world around you. With Apple planning its own AR headset, we also examine how these two tech giants are preparing to battle it out for what they both think will be the next major computing platform.

Will Meta be able to maintain its lead in the race to make popular headphones if Apple, a company with a better reputation for privacy and more experience building hardware, also enters the race, as expected? Our final episode features never-before-heard audio of Zuckerberg addressing employees internally about the upcoming battle with Apple and what it means for the future of the Internet.

Listen to the final episode of Land of the Giants: The Disruption of Facebook / Metaa co-production between Recode and The Verge, and watch the first six episodes on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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