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Facebook loses users for the first time (washingtonpost.com)
1749 points by lxm on Feb 3, 2022 | hide | past | favorite | 1352 comments

Related ongoing thread:

Meta shares drop 20% on Q4 earnings miss, weak outlook - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=30185214 - Feb 2022 (436 comments)

There is something else going on around FB.

Almost all activity online has shifted away from the Social Graph to a Content Graph. Almost nobody wants to see what their friends are doing online anymore. In a lot of ways it can be cringey. People just want the latest, catchiest content. TikTok and Youtube are the OGs here, but it's everywhere when you start to look. Twitter timeline changes being an awkward but working example. Discovery > Static friends list.

The entire premise FB was founded on is eroding. This isn't just Apple privacy and some regulatory strangulation. It's seismic to the business. The reason most people are still going to Facebook is incompatible with their primary activities online which is: consuming content from people-you-don't-know.

Facebook is where you find out your highschool friend is super in to a MLM, your uncle has drastic political views you don't share, and that your historical social class and network is largely irrelevant to your life a decade later.

They are doing everything they can to try to move in this direction, but the more they push it the less useful Facebook is for the average user. Instagram's discovery page is a prime example. But Reels are less good than TikTok, and whatever they are doing for short form video in Facebook is surely a hopeless game of catch up. This is classical innovator's dilemma.

The very idea that Zuckerberg straight up said they need to copy the competition harder is incomprehensible considering the resources they have.

They are going to try to do a few things. One is to anti-trust Apple (in the media at least), and the other is to hand wave (Metaverse).

The reason the Metaverse was such a non sequitur is that it is so clearly a last minute thrust coming out of the C-Suite. If you've ever worked at a highly visible tech pubco, you've seen this happen before. Weak quarters mean that product announcements get pushed up. When it is as all encompassing as the Metaverse announcement, you know something is up.

"Facebook is where you find out your highschool friend is super in to a MLM, your uncle has drastic political views you don't share, and that your historical social class and network is largely irrelevant to your life a decade later."

This is probably the most accurate description of Facebook I've seen.

I'm reminded of a Twitter joke from (according to the WaPo) @KevinFarzad:

"HEY IT'S ME your facebook friend from high school who never left our hometown & thinks Olive Garden is fancy. Anyway, here's a racist article."

How is that a joke? It's just looking down on someone because of where they live, eat and their politics (assuming very lose definition of "racist"). And when did the role of journalists start including dunking on random people?

You seem fun.

It's funny because it's something many, many people identify with. A good chunk of Americans with the ability to do so leave small, provincial areas they grew up in for better opportunities in larger, more diverse cities. This leads to a pretty huge disconnect between them and those who, for whatever reason, stayed in their hometown.

It wasn't something that you noticed as much until Facebook exploded, and then everyone got re-connected with people from high school that, in some cases, you'd neither seen nor thought about in 20 years. And then the sort of post that prompted the joke happens, and you see it clearly.

And I assure you, as someone who grew up in and later left arguably the MOST racist state in the US south, the articles these archetypes are sharing are often quite explicit in their racism.

Many people just want a normal life around family and friends and what they're familiar with. Having family around in particular is especially important when you have children or when your parents are approaching their end of life. Children get sick and having a relative around to help watch them is essential.

Many don't optimize their life their lives around "better opportunities" and "diverse cities". It sounds like you do, and good for you.

I hesitate to respond to you again because I think you've dug your heels in here on finding the joke troublesome, but:

You DO realize that it's not at the expense of MERELY staying in a small, provincial, homogeneous place, right? It's ALSO continuing to embrace the blinkered worldview that growing up in such a place engenders. You need both for the joke to land.

You're reacting here as thought it's JUST about moving away (or not). It isn't.

I know educated, open-minded people who stayed in my hometown who have grown personally and intellectually and morally since youth. They stayed there for a handful of reasons, and some of them are as you state: an inability or unwillingness to be more than an hour from family, for example.

But I know of far more people who have not advanced in any meaningful way since they were 18 or 20. They often find the VERY IDEA of a world beyond the hometown to be fishy and untrustworthy. They are, uniformly, uncritical consumers of Fox News. They are the ones posting racist memes about, say, the Obamas, or proudly touting their COVID vax refusenik status.

This is who the joke is about.

lol - thanks for this. Only on HN can you start with a joke and end with this.

Yeah, it's tedious.

Solid explanation, but I think anyone can be forgiven for taking that tweet at face value and finding it disrespectful to small town people (good or bad) .

wish I could report or downvote this

Reader, please take a moment to reflect on how hilarious this message is.



Is your contention that there are no uncritical consumers of Fox News? If so, I have a huge swath of family in Mississippi I should introduce you to.

Um no. Tell me, what the point of that statement is other than to be a bigot and spreading hate? Could it have been left out, and less hate spread because of it, without changing the context they provided? So you see, it’s just there to spread hate.

KevinFarzad is not a journalist. WaPo was just reporting on such jokes.

Journalist are normal people. Normal people write shitposts on Twitter. Presidents and CEOs can shitposts on Twitter but journalists cannot? What a weird assumption.

Showing contempt for huge swaths of people doesn't really bode well for objectivity. It's in poor taste for anyone to just dunk on people who stay near their homes and eat at olive garden. Sure, journalists CAN shit post, and obviously they do. I guess I assume journalists that cover news for presumably everyone wouldn't have such open contempt for so many people. But hey, that's just me.

I just realized you're basing your ire here on a misread of my post.

The joke is not from a journalist.

The joke was copied widely when originally posted, and it wasn't clear to me who wrote it in the first place -- but if I was going to reference it here, I wanted to give proper credit.

I found a story in the WaPo about online joke plagiarism, and it used this joke as an example -- and cited musician Kevin Farzad as the original author. Based on this, I credited him in my comment accordingly.

I misread your post in exactly the same way and thought the joke was made by a journalist.

They’re not dunking on people who stay near home and eat at Olive Garden.

It's different because I identify and agree with the virtue signaling of holier-than-thou social climbers who claim to do journalism. Their views represent mine, and since I am mostly without purpose or depth, I don't make petty distinctions about the definition of journalism: I only want them to validate my position that everyone I do not like is <insert adjective here> and incapable of critical thinking. The irony of this position is totally lost on me.

What’s the matter with Olive Garden?

Joke is thinking OG is somehow fancy digs.

It is fancy to a lot of people. I think the parent tweet is funny, but no need to dunk on people that don’t have a lot of money.

I wonder where that comes from. Do they pre-prepare their food and microwave it?

It's one of the cheapest casual dining restaurants that provide table service but avoids being fast casual dining and still tries to avoid a cheap look. Basically if eating out in general is a luxury due to cost then to you an Olive Garden or an Applebees type place is where you go to have your celebratory types of dinners because either your small town doesn't have much more to go to and/or your income doesn't really let you go spend on 1 12oz steak what could cover the entire meal for a small group at Olive Garden.

Of course there is nothing wrong with thinking OG is fancy and so on. Better to avoid folks who make a big deal out of it IMO.

It's a cheap, sly way to make an anti-White dig.

lol classic

lol classist

Not really. A lot of my high school friends in that boat are upper class. One is the new district attorney of my hometown for instance. Another is a regulelar contributer to fox news.

The stereotype is orthogonal to class.

“Thinks Olive Garden is fancy” is clearly a pejorative class signal

In my experience it says more about if you've left your little town for a relatively significant period of time than class. I know train kids with more exposure to the world than that, and as I said above district attorneys and national news contributors who have no interest in anything outside the commercial zone of their suburb.

> train kids

Is this a slur for my kind?

It's a term for teenagers and young adults that left the small town they were from by literally jumping on to a moving cargo train.

I suspect what may be tripping people up in this kind of discussion is that financial class and social class can be distinct from each other.

Spot on observation.

Classical guitar teacher here. I'd never have been able to buy the house I'm writing this from on my salary if not for also prostituting myself in the it sector :-)

I've found that social class in non urban environments is orthogonal to taste.

District attorneys don't necessarily get paid well, but they are pretty high up in local social class.

This probably sounds like a real zinger to a certain kind of young person who moved to Brooklyn and thinks everybody back home is a total loser, but this is not the modal Facebook user, so I'm not sure it matters much.

You’re trying to characterize OP as a condescending out of touch hipster, but in my opinion your characterization of the “modal” Facebook user is actually more so. The “modal” Facebook user is equally capable of being dissatisfied with the product as your 2013 hipster caricature is because FB has failed to deliver on its mission. The social side is boring and doesn’t generate as much engagement because it turns out your friends from high school truly are not relevant to your life, yes even the “modal” Facebook user is capable of change and evolution; and the content side leaves users feeling angry, divided, and exhausted after the hundredth flame war they find themselves embroiled in over the political upset of the day. It does matter.

"2013 hipster caricature"

"largely irrelevant to your life a decade later."

hey, 2013 was about a decade ago, you nailed it

i mean you can easily write the obverse joke and it has the same overall point - “hey, it’s me, your friend from high school that moved to brooklyn and got a tattoo and thinks he’s better than you. here’s an article about how big yogurt’s assumption you can use a spoon is Ableist” still underscores the fact that facebook is a pipeline to deliver brain poison.

Both jokes made me laugh and wouldn’t it be great if everyone could just CHILL?

You are making a different point, though.

The original argument was that Facebook is failing to keep up with the times, hence why the back-home losers are still using it while you, the successful urban-dweller, have moved on.

Your argument that Facebook is “a pipeline to deliver brain poison” has a lot more value, even if only because it’s more objective.

I won't argue whether it's accurate, but I think you missed the point. You can swap words around, and get the same for any demographic.

The friend's perception of the poster would be "HEY IT'S ME your facebook friend from high school who went to New York and thinks is better than you. Anyway, here's a woke article."

But that wouldn’t support their argument that FB is failing to keep up with the times.

I think it matters largely because I don’t believe that most people just want content. Everyone I speak with who uses FB on a daily basis has made the decision to excuse the habit purely because they are interested in keeping in touch with people. But by excusing that habit, they end up mostly consuming content because that’s what the feed gives them.

I left FB the day their “timeline” stopped supporting chronological sort.

> this is not the modal Facebook user

the increasing hew and cry suggests that it actually is

Well, it was always kind of doomed in this way.

When everyone is still actively building their friend list (remember this started for college students) its an amazing product because it brings you closer to people in a new way and allows for curation without investing a ton into AI/ML.

For people who stay in a static social bubbles for long times (e.g., your parents, your friends from HS who didn't move to a coastal city) it's also perfect, because they tend to value content related to their social group more than something new and interesting.

But for the highest value users (e.g., the ones with high-paying knowledge-based jobs and a willingness to try new things) the social graph will never keep up with their lives. Bad content from the edges of the graph will slowly creep into feeds (MLMs being a prime example) and those high-value users will seek out new platforms that conform better to their interests.

Instagram was a brilliant stop-gap, but Mark never saw the writing on the wall about algorithmic content (probably b/c Bytedance had the advantage of cutting its teeth in China first) and is just too far behind to ever really catch up.

So now he's trying to out-future Bytedance with VR (and even got them to burn $1bn on Pico), but unless he has some hard-tech rabbit to pull out of his hat, there's just not anything there.

We may very well be seeing the largest (negative) turn-around story in history since Yahoo! play out in front of our eyes.

When do the desperate acquisitions start?


They already have, and if the US Government would allow them to make another acquisition over $1bn, they already would have (I guarantee 5 different Biz Dev associates have made very long PowerPoints about Roblox and Rec Room only to be told the idea is DOA).

It's actually kind of amazing that Mark's off-putting personality and desire to remain the face of the company is what will kill it (let's just hope Aaron Sorkin stays alive long enough for the sequel, because it might rival Citizen Kane).

It's really a perfect assessment. I couldn't articulate why exactly Facebook felt like I was purely wasting time each time I engaged with the experience (few times a year). This description completely crystallizes my thinking.

Actually it’s not. Your early life social group becoming irrelevant to your life a decade later is NOT representative at all. What is accurate to say is the OP is not connecting with his old friends anymore. But let’s be real here, not everyone’s like that. Facebook is just a tool to connect with people. Attributing and expecting Facebook to make your friendships more relevant and meaningful is foolish and hopeless.

Yes. There are some social groups that still use it (“no practice today”) but the novelty has gone and the youngsters have moved on. If the value of the graph increases exponentially with users, each user leaving causes a disproportionate value drop.

A girl I thought was cute in college was totally convinced T***** would retain the Presidency on 1/6, so I guess it was useful as a sign something was going to happen.

I haven’t seen anyone voledermord trump b4

Just a couple of late night US talk shows, including the most viewed one, have done this.

Really? I’ve been doing it continuously since mid-2016, and I don’t think I’m alone.

Do you think if you say his name 3 times he’ll appear?


He probably wants to avoid having a discussion with trolls and astroturfing 42 supporters who have trouble filling in blanks.

And you’re saying the supporters almost all share this particular characteristic that makes them incapable of filling those blanks. Well…it makes sense.

I think there are a lot of people who are in my position, which is "I would absolutely love to ditch FB entirely, but I can't because of ____".

The value of ____ might be "seeing pictures of family", or it might be "coordination of/participation in a group that has settled on Facebook as the easiest path" (<-- this is me), or it might be "professionally necessary to be there" or a number of other things.

But none of these are positive reasons. There is no love of Facebook behind any of them. It's Facebook being tolerated. This is bad for Meta.

This is probably good for society at large, though. Or at least I hope it will be.

Yup, Facebook has their tentacles in so many places that walking away from it is difficult, especially if you are involved in local community activities.

My neighborhood exclusively uses Facebook for neighborhood communication.

My kid's school PTA exclusively uses Facebook.

Most of the local food trucks only post their schedules on Facebook.

Since the pandemic started I have been taking the opportunity to go through my house and clean out lots of things that have just been hanging around for years. I list everything I sell on Facebook, Craigslist, OfferUp, and Nextdoor. I can’t remember the last time I got a bite from any of the other services that aren't Facebook. It’s been awhile.

It honestly drives me be crazy how this company has wormed their way into being such an essential piece of communication infrastructure for so many people that I can’t quit without sacrificing my ability to participate in some of the things I really enjoy.

So I begrudgingly tolerate Facebook.

For me, it's the local cycling community. Rides and ride groups all use it as their point of coordination.

>Most of the local food trucks only post their schedules on Facebook.

Oh, god, that's annoying. I've actually seen some businesses forgo a proper web site and instead JUST USE FB, which is crazy annoying.

This!! But its even worse, they don't update their FB page. So I'm forced to use FB to find where they are this week to find their last update was August 2021.

I am from Europe so I may not get it, but what communication does a neighborhood do that is important? Yard sales?

Do people really participate in something like school PTA and eat often at food trucks?

I guess electronic platforms are more fragmented here in Europe. Google Maps owns business hours, various classified sites (such as Ebay's) own selling stuff locally. But everything might be different in each country really.

I think people have become more vary to post personal things online. I know very little parents that would be okay to publish pictures of their kids online (including on Facebook).

Is it so weird to imagine that having a shared communication space for one's neighborhood is desirable? There's a group for my neighborhood in Houston that's great for referrals (e.g., electricians), or notes about neighborhood businesses, etc. I can't imagine this idea is uniquely American, but maybe it is.

Yes, parents often participate in PTAs. Parent engagement is a big deal in education.

Yes, in many places in the US there are food trucks. People often enjoy them. Finding out where a given truck will be on Tuesday is useful!

Businesses generally keep Facebook pages in the US, usually as a supplement to a real web site, but also because Facebook has traditionally been where everyone is already.

What is a food truck? Can it dump the food in my mouth?

Our neighborhood uses an FB group. There are typically 2-3 posts a week.

* lost and found (including pets)

* HOA announcements

* changes to the trash pickup schedule, special trash collections, etc

* other events (Santa parade)

* new neighbor introductions

* recommendations (repairs, babysitting, dog sitting)

* free stuff or stuff for sale

* general advice on house construction (many houses are similar)

It’s not important per se, and not everyone is in the group. But it does come in handy.

>I think people have become more vary to post personal things online. I know very little parents that would be okay to publish pictures of their kids online (including on Facebook).

I have a few Facebook friends that refuse to post pictures of their kids on Facebook. I also have a LOT of friends that post nothing but.

I quit Facebook three years ago. Deleted all my posts and just left one of my cat. The internet was originally made to share pictures of your cat.

Super-local news and gossip may be very relevant. I am not on Facebook, but I think I am missing out on it. For example, why was there a police car parked two blocks away last Thursday? Someone might have posted about it.

Citizen answers this question better than Facebook

Nextdoor also used to do it well, but it has become like Facebook with flame wars and political craziness.

I'm working on another option for some of these things on my platform, Tosslet: https://tosslet.com

Would love some feedback on if you think it would help solve communications from: 1) PTA -> resident 2) Food Trucks -> nearby people

Your main non-social-media competitor here is probably going to be https://www.remind.com/, and I really can't see you winning, especially when you charge as much as you do. (I initially misread your pricing, but $0.60 is still kind of a lot.)

Cal Newport's "Digital Minimalism" addresses this common use-case scenario.

1) Remove the apps from your phone and log out on mobile browser, making each future login a concentrated intentional effort. (You can leave Messenger if that might be used for emergency contacts).

2) Use www version only.

3) Choose a time when you're going to sit by your home computer, and use social media for some pre-determined time slot, let's say 30 minutes.

The social networks are very good at serving this use case - showing most important content first, and relegating the junky stuff further down the feed. This way you won't miss any baby photos or wedding announcements, but will be spared from your uncle getting into a heated political discussion.

The social networks are very good at serving this use case - showing most important content first, and relegating the junky stuff further down the feed.

Only up to a point. I have actually missed wedding announcements because the announcement was pushed far down by more recent but less relevant news. Yes, if you use Facebook for 30 minutes a day, you probably won't miss anything. But if you use Facebook less often than that (like an hour a week, or once a month), you will absolutely miss relevant news because it'll be pushed down by whatever political shoutfest is currently drawing comments and reactions.

> Yes, if you use Facebook for 30 minutes a day, you probably won't miss anything. But if you use Facebook less often than that (like an hour a week, or once a month)

Which I'm sure is complete coincidence and not at all intended to draw you into using Facebook every second of every hour of every day

It's like that with me and having a phone number. Day to day I hate it. 95% of time I get scam calls from the "IRS" - actively harmful. Another 4% is marketing - unwanted, wasteful. Only the last 1% is potentially useful.

Is facebook trending in that direction? Seems like it.

I wonder if there's a generalisable statement in there - say, that all communication media will eventually become so swamped in noise that the signal is lost almost entirely?

Maybe too pessimistic.

It seems spot on to me. The fix is rather simple though, allow consumers to set some price that must be paid prior to sending the communication attempt. Want to call or email me and aren’t on my accepted list? $5 please.

I quit having a phone number and just rent virtual ones for shitty webservices that force me to have a number. Zero regrets.

I quit Facebook years ago and do not miss anything either, so maybe it's just me.

Seeing pictures of family and participating in group events are all positive in my opinion.

My son's daycare has a facebook page. It's very convenient to stay up to date on my own schedule without having to deal with emails. My pizzeria also has a facebook page. It's an easy way to look up hours or any updates. My gym has an instagram page to post their workouts and schedule. It's very convenient. The owners aren't very tech savvy so its easy for them. And its easy for me because the website isn't broken, gives me everything I need, lets me comment or reach out to the owners and is well indexed

It's like saying "I wouldn't use product if not for the value I get from the product".

Two of your examples can be done using a shared calendar, which is more fitting in these cases than facebook, and integrates more deeply into devices, and the third about looking up hours can be done using the maps app.

They try to make you think they invented the wheel but really they’re just offering the same services as elsewhere under their umbrella.

The information you get from businesses USED to be available on their own sites, without requiring you to submit to Facebook's invasive tracking.

I don't have any particular love for Facebook, but it remains the best way to share my underwater photography with friends. That's a positive reason. I appreciate how they give me a convenient distribution platform and it's all free.

Why could you not post all of your pics to a shared photo album that’s shared with your friends? It’d even remove the step of posting it only because as soon as it’s on your machine it’s uploaded to your cloud photo album. And it’s still free. Further what if you want to share this with those that aren’t your friends? You’ve required facebook usage with no real gain.

(this was years ago but) I thought this too. I was relatively new to a new city and still building my friend group. I was worried that if I deleted facebook I wouldn't get invited to events, keep in touch with new people I met.

I deleted it anyway. Deleting facebook didn't change my real world in anyway.

Re: metaverse, it's not really a handwavey after thought - they've been investing quite significantly ($10bn lost last year alone while all of Google's bets including deepmind and waymo lost ~1.45bn. >10k people working on it now AFAIK).

I think Facebook just got burned by not having a hardware platform this cycle - Apple and Google control the phones and Microsoft has the PC, XBox etc. They just want control over the next big hardware platform.

Whether that's a reasonable bet or not who knows? But I wouldn't be as dismissive of their ambitions in the space.

I just wonder where the software for it is at. Oculus is chugging along and I believe that can get quite good. But building a impressive MMO-like 3D world/game is probably a 5-10 year endeavor and runs a high risk that it won’t be fun or novel. I guess they’ll mainly build the platforms but then they need someone to build the worlds on top of it.

Zenith VR might fit your definition of MMO like 3D game.

I use Facebook more these days than I did 5 years ago. It has replaced Craigslist as the place to go for local things, especially buy/sell/trade. Our town, and even certain villages within the town, has a few discussion groups that is where I hear all the important talk/annoucements about what is going on. Groups tend to be like a Subreddit but with geographic IRL connections instead of anonymous interest-based associations.

Perhaps I'm just an outlier, but it's the same with Twitter for me. I use it more these days than I did some years ago, but I also use it mostly like an RSS feed. I follow video game devs, musicians, etc. so I can be kept in the loop on the latest releases and whatnot.

I think you make a good point about content graph. I think there is some truth to that, although I have never really taken any interest in anything but the kind of content that YouTube offers.

This is the exact same situation as me. As I’ve revisited old hobbies I used to be obsessed with 10-15 years ago, I realize that EVERYTHING has moved from the VB-based forums, to Facebook groups and marketplace.

I don’t mind the marketplace architecture, it’s quite nice actually. But Groups is the absolute worst place to house former forum content because it’s just not indexed well. There a few groups that I’m in that are managed really well, which gives them ~60% the utility of a tradition forum still.

What I’ve done on FB is aggressively unfollowed every single friend and page that I don’t care about. My feed is now strictly a feed of group posts from people I don’t know about my hobbies that I enjoy…it’s actually quite nice!

Yes I agree completely about how poor Facebook is at indexing old content. They are definitely not focused on anything but the absolute present. Same with Reddit. It's really too bad. I understand, though. People just don't have the will to figure out BBcode or create logins for every forum they are interested in.

What all of this points out is that Facebook never really solved the "MySpace/Friendster" problem, they just had the better product at the right time and were able to get a few more years of safety by acquiring threats (which is not a long term strategy).

It's wild that FB has become such a highly valued company despite the fact that they have always been resting on rather shaky foundations.

We can also start to see Goodhart's Law in action at scale. Running your company by constantly optimizing for metrics (as so many startups mimic now) eventually does catch up to you. The vitriolic content that initially got them massive engagement eventually gets more and more people repulsed by the service.

In the end, just like MySpace and Friendster, there is nothing that really prevents users from exiting from the platform extremely fast once the tide of the network effect turns the other way.

Seems right. In my and my close friends/family experience it’s all the same - all the cool/interesting people stopped posting many years ago and with each one, more and more followed them or got bored and stopped going. Now it’s just the dorks posting stale memes or boring updates. I haven’t posted anything actively for many years now but still check it now and then and shake my head.

I think it started a slow bleed when they removed the chronological view. After that it became “evil” and not about social connection anymore. No longer was my post being seen by my friends unless the algo thought it was saucy enough. It was a great business but I dont think you’ll ever get the people who are fed up to come back.

I'm not sure this is right. I think the problem with Facebook is that long ago it shifted to a content graph in terms of use. I have less than 60 people friended because I limit it to people I actually know and want to know what they're up to, and by and large they're people that aren't constantly sharing memes, videos, or other crap. Of course, this means that I can check it out once a week and that's enough to keep up with everything, which doesn't make Facebook money.

I believe the reason Instagram, Snapchat, and now TikTok grew the way they did was because the parents weren't on those apps. Even now we see that young people migrate to other platforms as their parents start paying attention to the current one.

In terms of monetization, isn't it more profitable to sell ads to decision-makers aka older people, than to kids and teens?

Depends on whether you’re focused on immediate sales or building long-term brand image. The old person may only have one car purchase left in their lifetime; the 14-year-old could have six or more.

These decision makers can be way tougher and more expensive to convince.

I don’t want to buy the next card game booster pack in any way or form. I don’t care about theme parks I’ve never heard of, or the new game that lets me save a half naked hottie. And for that matter I also won’t change for a new car insurance.

Now, someone in my life pushing for the formers might force my hand.

Ads targeting kids and teens actually tend to do very well. There's an entire side of youtube where kids review their new (sponsored) toys. Parents get immensely pressured when they feel their kids are getting left out.

Facebook was never ever about the Social Graph. It was always about user profiling and activity/interest monitoring which could be sold to advertisers. The Social Graph was just one tool for that.

Coincidentally the profiling is also extremely useful for political leverage and behaviour mod. I'm sure that never occurred to anyone around the company, and the links to operations like AggregateIQ and Cambridge Analytica are incidental among the ad noise.

The incoming anti-trust cases are going to be interesting.

That is right in terms of the business. For the consumer though, the Social Graph did (and does) have real utility. It just has zero business value now as it isn't even useful for the retargeting data.

Election years are big money years for the entire Ad industry. Political advertising is not something that a sane Advertising company will ignore.

Facebook has basically been a magical money printing machine for political fundraising. Put a dollar in with a nice outrageous ad and get two back in donations.

I really do miss the utility apps of the early 2000s that went social. I'm travelling soon and want to re-visit a restaurant I went to some time ago and none of the apps on my phone will make it easy to look up where it was I ate before. When I was living abroad in the early 2000s, the social apps like Foursquare made that kind of utility-to-me feature fun and useful.

FB, as a social platform, is moving away from being a social app. Same thing happened to other social apps. The original utility they had in the early days was subsumed by social, which is now being subsumed by something else. The original utility can't be found anywhere... it was dragged down into the depths and drowned.

In some ways, my iPhone now is less useful to me than it was before. I can look things up in the moment, but in terms of connecting me to my past activities -- not so much.

Better to check in on Google Maps rather than Foursquare so you keep your history when the small companies pivot away or abandon the service. It is bizarre to me that Foursquare didn’t keep it going though

Only if you're a marketer and see others as little more than consumers. Next thing to burn is commoditization of "content" as the young see through the nonsense and reach out for sincerity.

There are mountains of quality information online and while I would absolutely resent having to grow up in the age of social media, the kids are way better at parsing and questioning rapid onslaughts of information because of the tribulations there.

They get caught up for a while, but the guise wears away. Young people can easily see outside their immediate world, and any adopted worldview, unlike we've ever known. When I was growing up that meant a lonely kid wandering down to the library to flip through magazines from the big city to inject some new ideas into one's world. Now, young people from anywhere can dig into the most arcane of information and worldviews in seconds and begin integrating them earlier on in their lives.

The world will look very different in outlook in a short amount of time, and it will not be for the sake of "content". Just gimme some truth, all I want is some truth.

Agree with most of this, but I'm curious where Facebook groups fit in here. We recently moved to Florida and have been scrambling to find non-religious home school friends for our daughter (homeschooling because of Covid). Facebook has been pretty much only resource available, and I've joined a number of local groups that have proved somewhat helpful. I'm wondering whether groups may provide a level of stickiness and user retention that the timeline may not?

Facebook Groups and Marketplace are both good examples of content graphs. Your social network is irrelevant to them, in fact you may prefer NOT to see the listings made by your friends/family as the negotiation/purchasing is often nicer when it is relatively anonymous. Facebook's one moat is very shallow in this space.

Unlike high attention media with placement and interstitial opportunities, Marketplace and Groups are not great business models.

The social network graphs of the people contributing to e.g. a local group or marketplace helps in making sure that people behave somewhat honestly, I've found. At least in locales with like < 5k people.

> have been scrambling to find non-religious home school friends for our daughter

Why do they have to be non-religious?

Why ask why? That’s their stated preference.

Because I’m curious. Why ask any question? Is it a hard question to answer?

Like a more friendlier Reddit?

> Almost nobody wants to see what their friends are doing online anymore.

Fact. I unfollowed pretty much every person connected to me on facebook, and now my feed consists primarily of posts from 'This cat is C H O N K Y', 'Foods with threatening auras,' and the like. Huge quality of life improvement, second only to basically never using Facebook at all.

well, chonky cats are always a QOL improvement (-:

I’m personally more interested in the food with threatening auras. That sounds…interesting

One reason the Metaverse bothers me so much is a) because it's related to the company in general calling itself Meta, which itself is most likely a smokescreen to distract from the company's negative image and b) because it includes all the properties Zuckerberg has directly lied about and made worse - notice how the Instagram people left after conflicts with Zuckerberg, how Whatsapp users are forced into data sharing with Facebook, how suddenly you need a Facebook for the Oculus - if Meta/Metaverse was a conglomeration of home grown properties, in-house, or at worst previously competitive products that neverthelss they did a good job with and fostered to grow, and weren't annoying to use, and didn't pull bait and switch - why, sure, this Metaverse thing might seem like a pretty neat idea. As it stands, not only is Zuckerberg's vision of a utopia "copy and kill everyone else" but Meta/Metaverse is directly using basically stolen properties ("let's buy up these guys to destroy the competition")

Feels like Yahoo in the days it realized it was losing the search arms race to Google and Microsoft. There was this uneasy sense of the underlying seismic shift and that the game had changed and you didn't have the best hand.

Yep, you nailed it. TikTok is hitting Facebook and they are unable to respond. May be they will by copying the algorithm but things are going to get worse before they improve. Not sure if they will change Facebook itself though. That is too entrenched and too many users to change. This is going to be tough for fb to fight.

Facebook replaced the phone book. In the 1990s it was difficult to find someone's contact information. With Google, you can find a way to contact someone, find their email. With everyone having smartphones you can find a way to get a text message to someone.

Interesting: is it possible that this shift towards the content graph has something to do with a more active approach to content moderation? I mean, if your whacky aunt says something on covid, then it seems that he gets a nice label and that his message are propagated to a smaller number of his friends. Is it possible that all these moderation mechanisms have had a ripple effect on the entire network? I mean is it possible that the active stance on content moderation (some call it censorship) has caused the shift towards the content graph versus the social graph? In other words: if they choose to show less content by your whacky aunts, then they still need to fill the timeline with something, so welcome to the content graph!

I mean to say that a change of editorial policy in a given media outlet is often related to a change of political direction; is that the case?

Funny aspect: big tech wants to obtan some real influence and weight in society, so they introduce more censorship as a means of obtaining this weight. Now incidentially this erodes their base, as their clients loose interest in the toy, and start to use something else instead.

I would listen to your podcast.

Honestly the reason I use facebook still is to consume content from people I don't know, facebook groups are the only social thing left on the website, and the rest of it I use for fb marketplace which at least in my area has totally stolen the spotlight from craigslist.

The reason Facebook is losing, is because they're boxing with two hands behind their back. They're blocked by de facto anti-trust from ever acquiring their relevant competitors.

Acquisitions are a critical instrument for large corporations in terms of competition. TikTok's parent, ByteDance, is not restricted by such problems despite how massive they are, for example.

ByteDance is a $400 billion market cap company that doesn't have to play the game the same way Facebook does despite the fact that they're clearly competing in the same tier of scale now.

And that's not a statement of woe-is-Facebook, nobody should feel bad for Facebook, it's just the fact of the real context they're stuck with and their giant competitor is not.

>> Acquisitions are a critical instrument for large corporations in terms of competition. TikTok's parent, ByteDance, is not restricted by such problems despite how massive they are, for example.

Don’t forget the US came perilously close to banning TikTok last year. As much as Facebook probably doesn’t have the US government on their side, it’s more on their side that TikTok’s.

It seems like it should be easy for FB to pivot to the content graph. Their ability to serve relevant ads is unrivaled. They should be able to do the same with content. Old people buy stuff and love FB. MLM people love Instagram and buy stuff. FB should just roll out a new short video platform, pay influencers a lot to join, and use their algorithm to recommend the best content.

Bizarre how Tiktok went from being a Chinese sovereign state/public enemy that was going to be 'bought' by Oracle/Walmart but is now starting to destroy the 2nd gen social networks, the original concern. I've assumed for a while FB was being sunset'd/Yahoo'd to prep for a next gen surveillance capitalism engine but the TT Chinese data mining allowance continues to surprise. Meanwhile the 'off' platforms - Rumble etc - continue to expand, and given Trump's vast small donation $100m+ war chest it seems likely there will increasingly politicized factional networks very soon

I wouldn't mind if the CCP wants to own all the garbage content on tiktok as a tactic against us, as long as people are aware of the nonsense hosted on there.

Thanks, @libsoftiktok.

I think at this point 'Groups' are single-handedly keeping fb alive.

I deleted my FB account and the only thing that I went back for was my residents association. I still have no FB friends - which is fun because I can see the algorithm trying to work out who I know. Eerily, it correctly identified my partner and suggests I friend her (and her mother!) every time I login.

> Eerily, it correctly identified my partner and suggests I friend her (and her mother!) every time I login.

That doesn’t seem that eerie to me. Your partner is most likely logging in from the same IP, and perhaps your mother-in-law has done the same at least once, or is friended to your partner. Making this association is pretty straightforward

This would seem reasonable, but in the UK we commonly have carrier grade NAT, which is to say I share an IP with really rather a lot of people. It'd be interesting to see if that was the case. Maybe I'll send a subject access request.

> They are going to try to do a few things. One is to anti-trust Apple (in the media at least), and the other is to hand wave (Metaverse).

What does 'hand wave' mean in this context?

As in 'slight of hand' employed by a magician. Where someone makes an obvious movement to distract from something they don't want you to see. In this case, the assertion is that the Metaverse is more hype than reality. A shiny object, or concept, to create a plausible narrative that bridges Facebook into a future where they once again dominate, while distracting from the possibility that their current position is in decline with no tangible mitigation plan.

Maybe it’s becoming a major media source?

You know, like your on-demand TV channel that knows what you want, already.

And I'll watch that TV with my 3D glasses.

i believe this is true but it is not reflected in the public earnings at all.

User growth in the US may be flat but earnings per US/CA active user is up which implies that the value is here and growing for users in the US/CA

This is how the narrative of Facebook looks to me:

Zuckerberg got lucky and then executed brilliantly, transitioned from nerd hacker to CEO amazingly well. He deserves a lot of credit for that.

Since then, Facebook have innovated very little. Zuckerberg recognised this, and bought Instagram and Whatsapp in lieu of building an innovative company. The latter is clearly really difficult to do.

Without a stream of new ideas and products (unlike, say, Apple) Facebook double-downed on maximising revenue growth from their core advertising business. This led to all the scandals and disasters they have brought us, including destabilising societies.

Inevitably, this led to the core product becoming less attractive, and people were also turned off by the negative press. Zuckerberg's rigid control of the company has led to him being a lightening rod for the backlash against big tech and especially adtech. His media skills are awful, so insisting on control and making himself a figurehead has further damaged the business.

Zuckerberg knows the only way out is another home run. He's a super smart and prescient thinker, so he can see VR is a good play. It looks like the timeline for VR won't be short enough to save FB, but even if it were arriving soon enough he must know that FB probably isn't capable of delivering a truly new thing.

This then marks the beginning of the end for the company, as it continues to bring in revenue from Instagram and monetises Whatsapp. Its sheer size means decline is going to take decades.

I wouldn't be surprised if Zuckerberg leaves in the next few years, before the failure of Meta strategy becomes apparent.

What they _should_ have done is debatable, but developing some sense of ethics might have helped. I think they could have focused on building Whatsapp into a payments (etc) app, which would have created an enduring product, and then used the time that bought them to rebuild the company.

Microsoft are showing that it can be done, but I wonder if Facebook has the capacity to do great things. Perhaps the lesson from MS is that only a new leader can rescue such a mired company.

Microsoft, for all its flaws, has strengths. They're grittier than most and ultimately, know how to deliver software products and build businesses around them... very different products and very different businesses. Leadership was a lever to these, but there was something to lever

FB have never built a successful product besides Zuck's original. They have never created a good business besides the FB and program. They pushed both to the max.

FB pushed the walled garden hard. They pushed hard on acquiring the competition. They pushed hard on making the product "addictive" and optimising it on a "what FB wants from users" basis.

In its ad business FB pushed hard on leveraging data. Google's AdWords was always based on user intent. Someone searches for "divorce lawyer," and AdWords finds them a divorce lawyer. FB ads are premised on targeting, not intent. So... leverage data to create a segment with >n chance of wanting a divorce lawyer. It worked.

That's FB in a nutshell. They push hard on simple things.

What they need is something else to push on. I agree on making WhatsApp a payments app. IMO, retail finance would suit FB perfectly. They'd be better at it than Apple or Google. Look at retail banks, like Citi. It's all about pushing for revenue. Some newly invented fee that most customers don't know they're paying. Some new way of charging both sides of a transaction. More of something. Generating revenue from customer data, float, 3rd party deals... taking advantage of moat. FB would be really good at that.

Controlling the VR metaverse... I just don't see it. Too much innovation. Too much invention. Too many elements to balance. Too avante garde. It's not Zuck.

> Controlling the VR metaverse... I just don't see it. Too much innovation. Too much invention.

Remember FB can always purchase themselves into the market - pick up a few startups and bodge together a consistent product.

I think the problem is that VR tech and apps will take too long to arrive to gain any traction with the wider public, before FB needs it. FB needs hundreds of millions/billions of users, VR hasn't punched out of the 'early adopter'/gamer market yet and even those were balking at having to have FB accounts.

Facebook bought Oculus and although their hardware is still good, they are being beat in the software and overall hardware experience by Valve. A far smaller company but they built - Valve Index and Half Life Alyx (widely considered the best game in VR).

The Index isn’t perfect, but the actual story of Oculus is just them making a cruddy MVP, Valve taking the time to show their far superior prototypes, and allowing them to copy them, and then Oculus and part of the Valve team selling out to Facebook (ie Michael Abrash). Virtually all the innovation in VR was made by Valve, the only innovation Facebook has added is inside out tracking.

So Oculus is really just another Instagram /WhatsApp - they purchased a solid team and product, but they’re not out innovating even smaller players in the field.

You conveniently left out how Index is $999 + the cost of a gaming PC whereas Quest 2 is $300 with everything you need to play.

It's hard for me to hear your argument when you don't address the most obvious criticism.

>You conveniently left out how Index is $999 + the cost of a gaming PC

Plus the cable tethers and the need to bolt and wire up the IR lighthouses to your livingroom walls vs the Quest that you can slide into your backpack and take with you and play virtually anywhere indoors.

The simplicity, polish and ease of use of the Quest and its ecosystem really killed the tethered VR future regardless of much more high-end the hardware was, just how the iPhone simplicity and UX polish killed the Nokia and Blackberry power-houses.

The Quest is sold at a loss so that criticism is pretty unfair. Valve makes money out of the Index.

Can you point to a current console platform that isnt sold at a loss? PS5 and Xbox X is sold at a loss. Switches aren't, and it's well known that they are underpowered for current gen. Steam Deck also by Valve is thought to be sold at a loss. https://www.nme.com/news/gaming-news/gabe-newell-says-steam-...

You are criticizing them for a industry standard practice. Make loss on the console, make it up with the software. With what they are doing with the Steam Deck it seems like they have learned a lesson about trying to make a profit on the hardware from their VR efforts.

It's unfair to compare the setup experience because Valve has healthier margins? I'm not sure I follow.

Exactly. It’s hard not to make comparisons to the Nintendo approach with Occulus. Delivery a quirky one-of-kind experience moated by platform exclusives, banking on the experiences outweighing the under-delivery of cheap hardware.

But Valve has Alyx. Oculus tried to have a Mario in Lucky’s Tale, and Lucky is a super cute and appealing character, but gaming is older now. I had to look up the name of Lucky’s Tale to remember. Alyx has WAY more mindshare imho.

The Quest 2 is also reportedly sold at a loss.

The Quest 2 is reportedly sold at a large loss for FB. So that’s a completely unfair comparison.

I wasn’t looking so much at cost as much as capability to innovate.

There's a lot of innovation that has to take place to get the price down and to have a unit that has everything inside the headset. In fact those are probably the 2 things that have to happen before mass adoption. There is never going to be a significant market for VR headsets that you have to hook up to a gaming PC.

The manufacturing cost for the Oculus has to be far less than the Index since Valve reportedly isn't making much off their headsets. For argument if we say Meta's costs are $400/headset and Valve $900/headset, that still makes the Index over twice as expensive and it still can't run anything without being tethered to an expensive PC!

I don't know how you could seriously try to argue that kind of price undercutting isn't "innovating".

I disagree with your analysis. Yes, they bought great leadership with Carmack and Abrash, but what the R&D division of Facebook Reality Labs has been working on and also delivering into products (i.e. Quest 2) is amazing from a technological point of view. Sure, they have more resources and cash than Valve and can afford to sell it at cost, but still it's amazing technological innovation.

I'm hopeing that Apple, Valve and hopefully totally new players can enter the VR/AR market and make better products than FB without selling out to them. My only realistic hope for a competitor to Quest 2 is Apple at the moment.

Apple? They will never be a realistic competitor to Quest 2 on price. Apple is not in the business of selling below or at cost.

They'll make great hardware but the price will keep it in the "well off consumer" range. Good for Apple because that's where the profits are but it won't make VR mainstream.

Obviously they will sell at a premium, but they will make it affordable for average people in developed countries, just like with the iPhone. If you look at the smartphone market today, other brands also position their flagship products in similar price ranges like the iPhone. And don't forget about the iPhone SE, which is a very good deal price/quality wise.

For VR, I wouldn't be suprised if a lot of people would be ready to pay a premium just to have device that has feature-parity with the Quest 2 but is not owned by Facebook. You have to understand that so many people use the Quest 2, despite the fact that they hate Facebook (yours truly included).

But Apple's premium will probably be upwards of $1000 (I mean, seriously, do you really expect it to cost less? :) ). Meaning more than 3 times the price of the Quest 2! And this is for a product category that has not yet proven itself as indispensable in our daily lives, unlike the smartphone. I'm sure many Apple enthusiasts will buy one because it's shiny and from Apple but it will not be mainstream like that.

I doubt people are willing to pay that much more just to avoid facebook (especially considering facebook is decoupling their logins again from the quest services).

With current inflation rates (The EU is printing money by the billions per day) I do see a big gap in American (especially Silicon Valley) purchasing power and here in Western Europe. Whereas a few years ago I'd see only flagship phones in public transport, now it's a ton of redmi, budget samsungs etc. People don't have a lot of money anymore.

> But Apple's premium will probably be upwards of $1000

Yes, for sure. And I think that's a part of the reason they haven't released a VR headset yet. Give it a few years (maybe 5?) and there will be enough entertainment value and other utlity from a headset, especially if the ergonomics get better, which they will.

> Obviously they will sell at a premium, but they will make it affordable for average people in developed countries, just like with the iPhone.

There's a huge difference between selling a phone which is a status symbol and a VR set that has to have actual utility (entertainment, etc).

People pay more for iPhones even in Africa because it's a status symbol - only the rich can afford them.

The iPhone is hardly a status symbol in Western countries...

iPhones are great hardware, sold far above cost, that are very much mainstream and changed the shape of the entire product field.

Apple's VR doesn't have to compete with the Quest on price if their product is that much better. Which, hey - it's Apple. They might be able to pull that off.

iPhones are mainstream and market leader in the US, yes.

In every other region not so much. Here in Western Europe they are far from market leading, though still able to be considered 'mainstream'. But due to the inflation and lack of salary increases here since the 2007 crisis, most people go for midrangers now, and the iPhone SE is not attractive at all (old design, no oled screen). Just looking around on the subway I would see nothing but cheap Chinese phones now, most of the iPhones are from tourists.

VR is all about content, I don’t see how Apple could deliver there.

s/VR/Smartphones/g and you could've logically written this in 2006 when people thought $200 was an obscene amount to pay for a phone.

I'm bullish on Oculus since I think they'll get the software and exclusives right (also I have one and I'm impressed by it) but I don't think Apple being an upmarket brand is going to slow them down at all.

Exactly, but $200 was a lot back then because the platform hadn't proven itself yet.

Tthe first iPhone cost $499, and they even dropped the price of the $599 iPhone after a few months to $399, in a pretty unprecedented move by Apple. The price was clearly too high for a market that had not yet proven its value. VR is in the same situation as the modern smartphone was back then.

IMO it was the 3G iPhone that was the one that mattered and that was only $199 with contract. The original iPhone was like a weird alpha prototype. There was no reason not to get the contract at the time because AT&T was the only company you could use an iPhone on anyways

Pretty sure the Quest loses money, or it used to. It was way underpriced for what it offers.

Carmack has also left Oculus, hasn’t he?

Carmack is still part time, which is like full time for mortals :)

No, he remains as an external advisor

Occulus is a feature complete product that people can pick up, buy, and use. You dont have to own a desktop computer. Its the single most affordable VR option on the market right now. I saw plenty of parents buy them for their kids last Christmas. (The lack of PS5s and Xboxes probably helped that as a fallback choice)

Valve's stuff isnt really superior for most users for what you get for your price point. There price point for entry is TEN TIMES what Occulus is, and I've used both headsets. Yes Valve is better. It's NOT 10x better. Maybe not even 2x better. And if you want to play Half Life Alyx, the cheapest way to do that is to buy an Occulus and hook it up to your computer. Valve has effectively put themselves in the luxury sports car lane when it comes to VR.

Occulus and Sony's VR for Playstation seems to be the actual entry points for most people when it comes to VR. And Valve isnt even really positioning themselves as a competitor to Occulus sense Steam VR has Occulus support. They seem to be fine wiht letting Occulus be the entry point sku and Steam VR being what people do when they go further down the ecosystem of what is currently the VR niche hobby.


You seem to know what you're talking about but it's really hard to take it seriously when you misspell the company's name.

Its technically Meta Rift 2 now :)

...you're deliberately trolling now aren't you

> Virtually all the innovation in VR was made by Valve, the only innovation Facebook has added is inside out tracking.

That hasn't been true for a long while. Having a room-scale VR system back in 2016 certainly made Valve look quite a bit ahead of Oculus's "Rift is a sitting experience, have an Xbox controller" disaster.

But these days Oculus is far ahead, they are constantly adding new features (AR, hand tracking, wireless, standalone, 2D app integration, etc), while SteamVR is still mostly the same as it was back in 2016. At the moment SteamVR is barely even usable and full of bugs (resolution and input settings regularly disappear).

That's not to say that Oculus is the only one innovating, Microsoft's WMR Portal was a great attempt at bringing the Desktop into VR and they were the first ones with 6DOF tracking in a standalone headset. Some of the AR pass-through stuff, that Quest2 has just added, could be done on Daydream years ago.

But Daydream is dead, WMR seems to be on life support and SteamVR isn't getting any improvements either, all while Facebook went full throttle and is pumping out new VR features every few months. The only one that might have a chance at competing with Facebook's VR effort at this point is Sony with PSVR2 and maybe Apple, but their VR doesn't seem to not be aiming at the mass market.

The Quest has a ton of features, sure.

But: . I don’t see a lot of apps using many of these features at all.

. I don’t think VR will ever win the consumer space. I’ve been working on it for half a decade now, and I don’t know anyone who regularly uses their headset for entertainment. Party trick? Sure. Everyday use to watch a Vr film or play a VR game? Not really. I own a headset myself and I barely use it.

VR is a productivity and industrial tool, that’s where the true user adoption is. FB is fundamentally misdirected, and the sooner people get that the sooner they’ll realise there’s nothing there at the end of the rainbow for Zuck.

Aren't they? https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/19/technology/facebooks-new-...

They've got enough people working on this I don't see how they can't work on gaming and work at the same time.

Sure business applications are cool. But the hassle of using a headset vs a simple Zoom call? They’d have to build some great conferencing features in there. It’s possible.

> the only innovation Facebook has added is inside out tracking.

Microsoft was first to this in the consumer space with WMR

Sure, true but afaik it was the Quest ecosystem that really sold to consumers a very good experience. I never experienced the WMR stuff but I heard mixed reviews.

VR is never going to gain the traction FB is betting on. Absolutely no one wants to spend their day inside a headset cut off from the outside world. It's uncomfortable, antisocial, expensive (for now), and just clunky overall.

If anything is going to come of this it's going to be AR, without a doubt. People want to be able to see the world they are in, they don't want to walk into tables, have to disrobe to answer the door, tend to children and so on.

AR adds value everywhere in the real world. AR can blend meetings, add meta information to day-to-day tasks. Think driving, you can now have your maps, speed, collision warnings, and so on in a virtual heads up display.

Even if Meta knocks it out of the park with early AR it's going to be a long time coming and they will still have a trust issue that younger, faster AR startups won't have.

I guess I'm absolutely no one. I love being in VR and spend most of my free time in VR and it is ENTIRELY social. I love seeing the world I'm in but I've seen a lot of it already. When I can see things that don't exist in meatspace the possibilities are endless.

AR is the space I'm least excited for. The more we push AR the sooner we will have ads in our face everywhere we go.

>AR is the space I'm least excited for. The more we push AR the sooner we will have ads in our face everywhere we go.

Yup. AR = Awful Reality.

AR will definitely be bigger, it will be a game changer, who needs to buy a TV or extra monitors at that point.

But I disagree that VR is anti-social, it is not exactly the same as being irl social, but the success of VRChat (a social VR platform) and Zenith (the first good VR MMO) has shown how big the social aspect is.

Social VR easily showed its use during the pandemic and the lockdowns.

However, social VR is also immensely useful for more introverted people, which more extroverted people might not realize. It is quite simply easier talking to people in VR than it is in real life. It is good therapy if you want to view it like that.

> However, social VR is also immensely useful for more introverted people, which more extroverted people might not realize. It is quite simply easier talking to people in VR than it is in real life.

I think you're confusing introversion with social anxiety.

Yes, I did make that common mistake once again.

> I think the problem is that VR tech and apps will take too long to arrive to gain any traction with the wider public

Provided that it happens at all. People tend to extrapolate too far based on something being subjectively attractive for a limited group. Think of 3D TV hype a decade ago (and we're thinking of technology that actually debuted almost 100 years ago).

> even those were balking at having to have FB accounts

It's been like what, 3 years? that I've been patiently waiting for the UE (or someone, in general) to mandate Facebook to remove mandatory account signup and tie-in, before buying an Oculus Quest (now 2). I don't care if this means I end up not buying and enjoying it at all in the end.

Sadly I guess just a minority have such firm positions when it comes to "vote with your wallet", so in the end the vote ends up being nothing more than a self-imposed punishment. But thankfully VR is just a very superfluous experience for now to be missing it, so I am fine with that.

This is the reason I backed the Lynx R1[0] headset instead of buying an Oculus - no way in hell I'm going to sign in to a Facebook account on a device with bazillion cameras for inside out tracking!

I'm sure many of the supporters of other independent VR hardware project (such as Simula VR[1]) are of the same opinion.

[0] https://www.lynx-r.com/

[1] https://simulavr.com/

Can you create a new account for the Oculus that isn't tied to anything or used for anything else?

I haven't tried as I started using an old fb account that i don't use anymore for nothing else, but if you still need a Facebook account to use it, you'll still have to give them heaps of data, including verifying your phone number.

You don't anymore, you do need an account but doesn't have to be a Facebook one.

That was the strategy IBM tried with the Software Group. Buy several 1 to 2 billion dollar companies every year to see what sticks. Did not work.

FB does not have access to the M&A trick anymore. Those days are gone. Regulators are tired of seeing GAFAM buying their way out of their lack of innovation. They also want to see new companies succeed on their own. That's where the new GAFAM will come from in the long run. And this is a long run race.

Depends how fast the market moves. Any acquisition will get enough scrutiny that even if it goes through it will take a while

This will both scare off potential acquisitions and slow things down a lot, enabling others time to make better plays.

Even if they choose all the right targets it will still be hard.

I'm curious if you have any thoughts on why VR remains so niche. Decent VR hardware has been available for years. And yet relatively few people use it.

Most people are not nerds like us and prefer to interact with people in person. They cook dinner, they make babies, they read, they play with their dog. They use computers for work. Then you have the gamer segment.

VR games are generally casual / active. Not playable in most apartments due to space needed. Most gamers are into either shooters, dark souls style games, or moba-style games. And action/rpg - which is great in VR, but there are also only a couple of them.

Metaverse? Live in VR? Why? You can live in real life. People have other things to worry about.

> Most people are not nerds like us and prefer to interact with people in person.

People are also glued to phones. Children are making TikTok videos. My point is that people do interact online. The issue with VR is fidelity. It just doesn’t live up to what people imagined yet. Compare what we have to TV series like “Upload” from Amazon.

There is also a problem that is exemplified by VR chess or VR poker.

Anyone who wants to play chess or poker online most likely already has without VR. Sitting across a virtual table with a virtual person with an annoying headset on to play chess or poker online is practically a downgrade from what we have now. It is a one off parlor trick.

VR Poker is a HUGE upgrade from online poker on the web or an app because a poker game is a social experience that benefits from the sense of presence you can get with VR. Chess, not so much.

Personally I have not heard about a great game or experience in VR yet. Nothing I would like to call fun gaming or exploration. Put some VR chairs like in Tom Clancy's Special Netforce youth novels by Diane Duane and that might grab my attention. In a VR I do not want to walk around, but I want to control the character and feel like I am really there. And then of course that FB has its hands in play makes the whole thing stink from the start. Who would engage in any kind of personal interaction with that? At least not I.

> In a VR I do not want to walk around, but I want to control the character and feel like I am really there

these are incongruent.

> Who would engage in any kind of personal interaction with that?

tons of people do regularly. see https://playtracker.net/insight/game/2704 do note: not all vrchat users use VR everytime. but still the numbers arent insignificant. not to mention disabled people who cant participate in society as well as the average person, may want to experience a world where they can walk, go to the theater with their friends or swing around like spiderman.

as for fun games in vr? try pavlovVR, into the radius, until you fall, beat saber, legendary tales...

Racing sims are where VR truly comes into its own.

Racing sims especially. Many popular racing sims have great VR support, and a lot of them have very detailed textures (compared to the average VR game). Combine that with a good wheel and a structurally solid rig, and you really feel like you're driving an actual race car.

The downside is that it does take up significant space and requires extra hardware (wheel, pedals, rig, etc.), which is a dealbreaker for many (me included at the moment).

I think it works exactly because you are not moving in a real car, the car is moving.

With a physical wheel then just simulating vision makes it true virtual reality for car driving.

Almost nothing else is like this though. Virtual reality swimming I think is the best example of why VR sucks in the general sense. The visual aspect is just a small aspect of the experience of swimming. We can't simulate any other aspect of it with VR goggles.

Simulating most real life experience is much closer to the problem of swimming than the problem of driving a car.

Half-Life Alyx is quite good. It can be played on a decent gaming PC plus Oculus Quest 2. I also adore Beat Saber, but mostly custom maps (Quest 2 version needs to be patched for it to work), and some social component is lost.

My wife has used some exercise apps for the original Quest. It was really good for workouts when going to the gym wasn't possible.

I've had some basic exercise and lots of fun with "Until You Fall" on the Index.

>Not playable in most apartments due to space needed.

Maybe in places like Tokyo or Hong-Kong as even in my small European apartment, I could find the 2x2m space needed for VR.

Because VR is expensive and the value of the experience is limited.

Decent VR experiences require space. Room scale requires, well, pretty much a whole room to play it in. A room free from obstacles. An entire empty room just to play a game. I have one such room, and several times I've found that games still insist on placing objects outside the designated walkable area. Most people do not have an entire room to dedicate to VR.

And most VR experiences really aren't worth it. They're largely novelties rather than something you want to interact with every day. The only exception I've experienced so far is Beat Saber, but even that with it's minimal around-the-room movement frequently has to throw up the guardian because I swung my fist too close to a wall.

Because the effort required to play is absolutely huge.

If I want to play a game on my PC I just double click the icon and I can start playing.

If I want to play a game on my VR headset I need to move furniture to make space, then I need to unbox the headset, I need to put it on and take 3 min to adjust it because my girlfriend is the last one that used it, then I need to define the space available in the room, and then finally I can enjoy a 720p game, interrupted by the red walls of the guardian when I get too close to the limit of the space I defined. Then I'll need to move back the furniture and everything...

The reason I barely play VR is because it's a chore to setup and I'll have to spend at least 15 min before being in an actual game.

The chip shortage/pandemic has stunted what would have been a massive scale up in vr production in the last 2 years.

This has been a brake to economies of scale applied across the industry, so the existing players can put their logistic efforts in to keeping up their supply of existing products at the same price as they launched, which is enough to start competitive. Without the shortage, I expect we would have seen many more and cheaper Oculus Quests being sold.

For a point of reference, see purchasing the Valve Index, which last I saw if you buy from valve has a lead time of at least a month, despite launching in 2019.

> what FB wants from users

The way I see it, this is the biggest thing they need to turn around. To a point where they might need to launch a product - or maybe a paid tier - that is somewhat separate from what the FB experience has become.

What users want from FB needs to be explored on multiple levels. Ability to sort posts chronologically between a subset of your network, 'suggested' connections you can filter by relevance to a subset of your interests, customizable local community participation alerts... there are all kinds of ways of exploring vast social networks that can actually benefit society.

I strongly feel that prioritizing content which gets people riled so you can feed them more ads is such a massive negative, showing a willingness to change something so terrible yet fundamental to their current revenue would be the most significant thing they could do. It probably won't happen, but despite my increasing pessimism I still like to imagine better possibilities.

Microsoft has multi-billion dollar branches - Office, OS, Azure, XBox, Activision, I'm sure I've missed one. It also completely fluffed Nokia. And dodged the bullet that is Yahoo.

It's pretty resilient.

FB? Like others have said, the social media FB itself is pretty weak, and like you also said - addiction, and walled garden are the locks in. It can only grow financially by (more) acquisitions.

FB has Oculus, which could be compared to XBox (though not yet in size).

It's in a different league in terms of size, at this point.

Also, FB bought Oculus. It has grown since, but most of where they are is on trajectory from the purchase. Meanwhile, VR as a whole is neither a big not profitable market. The competition are also a bunch of upstart-ey businesses/divisions limited by investor generosity.

Zuck makes good acquisitions, no doubt about that, but Oculus isn't an Xbox yet.

Xbox, OTOH, is proof that Microsoft could enter a completely different market, compete, win and create a whole new business division. It was already a mature market.

Xbox et al is ~$17b/year in revenue. Meta's VR was ~$2bn last year.

I'm shocked it's that high, but, honestly, for an early effort, that's pretty competitive. If I'm reading Microsoft's 2005 annual report right, Home & Entertainment revenue was $3bn in 2005.

I still don't think VR is going to supplant console gaming, but console gaming is a big business--Xbox-level revenue would be a 15% increase in total revenue for Meta.

I also don't think Zuck's stated aspirations are a +15% boost in revenue by becoming a successful competitor in the gaming market, which is why it's so easy to criticize the insanely overstated goals of the "metaverse."

XBox is mainstream, Oculus is not. Maybe it will become mainstream too but countless products were the next best thing and faded away.

"It's all about pushing for revenue. Some newly invented fee that most customers don't know they're paying. Some new way of charging both sides of a transaction. More of something. Generating revenue from customer data, float, 3rd party deals... taking advantage of moat. FB would be really good at that."

I'm curious: do you have any awareness of the fact that there are very unethical actions suggested in what you are discussing here casually?

Banking 101. It's not pretty.

I haven't heard of any ethical issues in retail banking. What are they? Anyway, it's not usury if they eat breakfast with you.

I think Microsoft is also almost an essential product company. You can either get a PC or a Mac. Or Linux but even that requires getting a PC anyway. Chromebook market is still tiny.

PC != Windows

And was never. The Personal-Computer is an original product of International Business Machines (IBM) and not Microsoft. Contrary to most products shipped today it's architecture is open for industry standards and other companies. A huge success for IBM.

Microsoft shipped the pre-installed and required operating-system. You can order desktops and laptops without an operating-sytem or Linux from Lenovo (former IBM), Dell, System76, Purism, Tuxedo and many more. Vendors which aim for cheap distribution to private customers usually only ship Personal Computers with Windows. Most of these are crap and come with questionable pre-installed software - and I don't refer to Windows.

That IBM sold the PC subsidiary was the worst mistake the could ever have done, both Apple and Lenovo show how much money you can earn with long lasting high quality products. IBM lost the contact point to many customers. They need to succeed with Red Hat now. Irony, IBM use and prefer (again) ThinkPads, preinstalled with Linux.

If you say "it runs on PC" you're actually saying your software is compatible to an Intel 286 CPU or higher. Well, if it is portable?

>PC != Windows

Technically, yes, that is correct, however, looking at the over 90% marketshare Windows has on the IBM/PC space, Windows is pretty much the synonym for the PC OS. Most laptops and PC's sold with an OS by retailers or OEMs, are shipped with Windows by default. It's basically a monopoly.

Sure, on tech boards like this one the proportion of people running some GNU/Linux based OS on their PC is much higher than the statistics, but the average joe consumer is 99% surely gonna have Windows on their PC which is where the assumption that "PC automatically equals Windows by default" comes from.

I likely use often also incorrect or misleading terms.

Yes. The mass market works (thinks) like that. Like you said, we're here on a tech board and therefore I refer to the actual definitions. Depends on situation when correct terms must be used or not.

don't let it stop you correcting people calling their desktop PC a hard drive. We're technically on a tech board so the correction is _correct_.

Nah, the box on your desktop is the CPU. Just like "Adobe isn't working" means there's an issue opening/editing PDFs.

Extremely pedantic.

When people say "PC" as in "PC or Mac?" they do mean computers running Microsoft windows

I agree, but it is also correct. Somehow similar to asking "github or subversion?". It also a bit confusing once you introduce Linux into the mix. I will stick to Windows or Mac instead (oranges to oranges comparison).

And even before that, they meant MS-DOS. Microsoft's DOS!

Pedantic? Yes. But the difference is significant between "remove" and "delete" and there is a difference between "while" and "if". Regarding APIs I'm hopefully pedantic.

> That IBM sold the PC subsidiary was the worst mistake the could ever have done

That was years and years after they had already committed "the worst mistake they could have done", which was not buying Microsoft early on when they had the chance. This should be immediately obvious, as you're here complaining about people confusing Windows with PCs. After that, their failure to secure exclusive rights to Intel's x86 chips, their inability to keep up with all the clones on the market, and the missteps of the PCjr and OS/2, the eventual sell off the PC hardware business was inevitable.

Wasn't IBM's philosophy to have always two vendors for each component, therefore a clone from AMD and later an own chip? Probably manufacturing everything exclusively would've counteracted the idea of exclusive rights. They had a plan but not probably not expected the success in this way. On the other than, luckily they didn't planned for "vendor lock-in with eco-system" :)

> not buying Microsoft early on when they had the chance.

That would likely have led to closing down the clones, not allowing others to use DOS, they would have became an also-ran.

lol in their heyday it was virtually impossible to find a computer you didn't build yourself that didn't include a Windows license. Regardless of whether you ran Windows on it Microsoft got their tax.

I can't remember if they actually did this or were just trying to but I recall they wanted Intel and AMD to charge a license fee for every processor they sold.

Lenovo is not high quality compared to mac except at the top of the range. Which is very expensive. Trying to compete in a commodity consumer market where nobody (other than Apple) made money for well over a decade would be a business disaster.

> IBM use and prefer (again) ThinkPads, preinstalled with Linux.

Citation required. They had ~300K apple devices several years ago.


> A huge success for IBM.

A huge success for users because it created the clone market. IBM was never a big player in the PC market after the clones came out.

>Or Linux but even that requires getting a PC anyway

I'm not sure I understand what you mean here, if I buy, say, a Dell computer with Linux pre-installed then I don't think MS gets a cut? They don't own the PC platform.

Or maybe you mean that most prebuilt PCs come with some OEM Windows license even if you don't intend to use is, which is fair enough I suppose.

Not that it really matters for desktop PCs where Windows is king anyway. Although from personal experience I'd argue that the "essential product" these days is less Windows itself than the Office suite which is still the gold standard in many institutions.

Apparently Chromebooks outsold Macbooks in 2020, and their market share only seems to be increasing:


(That said, ChromeOS still makes up a much smaller percentage of active installations, as Google don't have the legacy hardware base that Apple and Microsoft do)

In some sense this demonstrates a point about key markets. Chromebooks have market share that's not important, beyond sales volume for a variety of reasons. It's a secondary machine, a non-work machine, a machine for the unsavy, etc. People who don't need much from the laptop. It has few apps, and the ecosystem isn't that important. Companies don't run on it. Companies don't even really run on Google docs very often. These products remain non essentials with little to no lock-in.

You could argue that kindle is a computer too, but it doesn't really matter either way.

I think you are forgetting a gigantic market that is worth billions upon billions of government funded cheese: schools. Chromebooks have the education market down. Damn near every single school that wants to upgrade its tech is getting a chromebook. Schools need google docs. Schools need a low cost machine so that they can buy a thousand of them. Schools need something incredibly locked down. Schools are a source of income that is not only great but also gets people used to using google products as that is all they have learned (you ever wonder why Adobe and Microsoft work so closely with education?). To say that chromebooks have an "unimportant" market share is just flat out wrong.

This is an important point. The experience that people have as children defines their understanding of technology to some extent. Getting children used to your hardware and software is a major investment in the future. And lucrative school contracts are an investment in now.

> Getting children used to your hardware and software is a major investment in the future.

I disagree. Apple tried this in the 1980's in the U.S. It was a disaster, no one bought Apple computers for home use and the company almost went under. Apple didn't come back to life until they came out with the iPod. It didn't hurt that they later got a booster when MS released the sh*tshow know as windows 8.

I'm pretty sure the school market is not terribly lucrative. I thought that Chromebooks were dumped on schools to try to build momentum and familiarity in children. So when they grew up they would be Google Docs / Chromebook users.

Closed source in education is unethical. Full stop. We can argue about the rest of the world.

I think you forget that only US schools buy their students computers.

That isn't true. I know of many schools in Norway and Sweden that buy iPads or Chromebooks for their students. Although it is admittedly not universal

Probably Switzerland does that too. That's still very small fraction of the whole world.

I don't know where you get this idea that Chromebooks are secondary machines.

For everybody that I know who owns one, it's their primary machine.

Remember that you can run Docker natively on a Chromebook and you need a VM on both windows and Mac

They're marketed as such, I imagine to avoid antitrust of "general purpose computers" like the iPhone, despite both being generic computers

Nit: Docker runs just fine in WSL on Windows.

WSL is not native. You don't get native perfomance for especially disk reads

Could it be related to the offers giving away free Chromebooks, for example when purchasing Samsung products: https://www.samsung.com/ca/offer/chromebook/

As a subjective observation I've seen quite a lot of ads for those giveaways.

I suspect that has a lot to do with how “disposable” Chromebooks are. What’s the average lifespan for a Chromebook given to middle school students? I can’t imagine it’s very long.

I very much like your analysis, but retail finance would be an uphill battle for a company like FB that has built such a negative track record of user data handling.


I can certainly see the criticisms mounting, if FB go financial. But, I also recall the many times FB withstood criticism. Criticism from users over product changes. Experts on privacy. Journalists and politicians on social issues and user manipulation. They persevere, and rarely have to give an inch.

OTOH, I think FB is the world leader in gaining leverage from customer data. Their ad business is more based on targeting data than Google's. It could conceivably even survive the demise of FB itself. Finding partners to run ads is doable, and with fb's targeting that still could ad up to major and business.

So perhaps they're not great at securing customer data, though they are probably more as technically capable than most banks. But, they are the very best at leveraging and monetising customer data.

Call it a high risk, high reward investment.

I hear you, but I'm not convinced. Retail finance is being hammered by future giants like Revolut and Stripe who are not complete noobs in leveraging customer data and start from a much better position PR-wise (relatively).

How do Revolut and Stripe leverage customer data? I suppose Stripe has some fraud detection, but I haven't heard of anything game changing. For Revolut, I can't really think of much.

FB has the most targeting-centric ad business by far. In dollar terms, I can't think of anyone earning as much from customer data as FB.

Making WhatsApp into a payments app is going to lead to the most difficult content moderation problems ever known. Everything from content by casual OF performers to extremely illegal and damaging content would be on that platform if it was easy to make payments and still fairly easy to send pictures and video privately.

> FB have never built a successful product besides Zuck's original.

Can we argue the same point for Google?

Considering their dominant position in digital ads, I wonder what this implies.

I don’t think so. Android, Gmail, Maps, Chromebook…

I agree with most of what you wrote up to this point:

> He's a super smart and prescient thinker, so he can see VR is a good play

He made a school yearbook on the internet and copied some features from existing social networks like MySpace. Facebook was just in the right place at the right time and executed well.

The jury is very much still out on whether "VR is a good play", too. It might turn out to be a gigantic over-marketed gimmick like blockchain has.

Anyone remember that Next Big Thing was supposed to be 3D TVs? I think VR is similarly misguided (ie, will never go mainstream but will have a healthy niche).

I think this is a great analogy in that there are fundamental physiological limits on how much 3D TV the human body wants to watch, and the answer is “not much”. All the VR/AR products I have seen fall into the same boat—a bit of a lark to use for an hour or so, beyond that, no thanks. It is a fundamentally different experience than reading a screen or listening to earbuds, and I don’t mean that in a good way.

Not much, huh?

I think you're wrong in saying there's a limit when it comes to AR.

Our smartphones are AR devices, a poorly interfaced cybernetic extension. It's a cumbersome device yet unimaginably successful.

This poor AR device has constraints that will always hamper it. It must be of a certain size to display anything useful/readable and to be a useful touch-operated device.

If people put up with this poor device and it's slow information delivery, due to the poor human-computer interface, then they sure as hell will put up with AR devices of the future.

This new wave of AR need not have near as hampering constraints.

AR has the potential to be more successful than the modern smartphone when products are as uncumbersome, lightweight and comfortable to wear as regular glasses/sunglasses, while having the technical specs to augment reality with razor sharp and useful 2D and 3D overlays, and sound.

I see no reason people will be more reluctant to put on a pair of sunglasses than carry an iPhone in their pocket or purse.

Then there are other AR product forms, like contact lenses.

AR has a wide host of useful applications, both civilian, social (recreational), military, engineering, medicine, etc. That's not the future, for most of these branches it is already in great use. There's a ton of R&D going on in this space.

> Then there are other AR product forms, like contact lenses.

This seems far-fetched to me.

Mojo (https://spectrum.ieee.org/ar-in-a-contact-lens-its-the-real-...) claims to be on track for this, but:

- their "working demo" is apparently not actually wearable

- it has no built-in battery -- if I have to wear an inductive charger around my eye, I may as well wear smart glasses, right?

- the whole thing has a bit of a Theranos feel about it

I'm skeptical.

> I see no reason people will be more reluctant to put on a pair of sunglasses than carry an iPhone in their pocket or purse.

Surely the fact that this is exactly what happened with earlier product releases must count as a reason... And come on, AR contact lenses? In what century exactly? If you think that's what's going to rescue Meta, I've got some FB I'd like to (short) sell you.

I have no confidence in FB/Meta’s future. They’re not the ones who will be the victor.

> I see no reason people will be more reluctant to put on a pair of sunglasses than carry an iPhone in their pocket or purse.

I agree. I disagree however that VR is already here. It isn’t, not even close. And it will keep getting further away as we push for higher resolution and higher frame rate displays.

I think there needs to be some way to power this thing all day long. Maybe Apple was onto something with its Apple Watch strategy. Create a minimally viable product and only introduce new features very slowly so you can still claim all day battery life in a happy path. Tl;dr I don’t think the limiting factor is VR itself but rather how do we power it. I don’t want something on my head that I have to charge every fifteen minutes.

Agreed. I don’t want to go into the computer’s world (VR). I want the computer to come, unintrusively and under my control, into the real world (AR).

> It is a fundamentally different experience than reading a screen

It's an interesting thing to say because, one of the pending killer apps for VR is liberating us from our clunky rectangular meatworld screens that can't travel with us. It's still too low resolution now in affordable hardware, but it's at a tipping point and it is going to be quite exciting to see it cross that. I wouldn't rule out that in 5 years from now, a sizeable percentage of the professional computing workforce is using VR just for this reason alone.

My monitors are awesome though and I don't have to wear a ridiculous headset.

I am never wearing a VR headset all day to save space. The day this rolls out I am asking for an exception for real monitors.

I honestly don't think this is ever going to happen though. Everyone is just caught up in this hype cycle.

Then we can cram people into even smaller cubicles.

Bold of you to assume you'll get the minimal privacy of a cubicle's partitions.

The VR office is probably going to be open concept, like a bunch or chairs in a room.

Comfy chairs at least?

BYOC :-(

I think it’s worth properly segregating VR from AR.

VR shuts you off from the world, and only permits you to interact with people digitally. My view is this is only ever going to be a niche play for gaming and some commerce (e.g architecture, game design).

AR on the other hand at its most minimal is a set of specs, and you only seeing reality. Nothing has to be always on, as someone who wears glasses this is my current world. Now introduce the ability to insert virtual objects (e.g a virtual computer screen) and my world is a little bit better. Wire it together so people can share the augment, and possibilities become limitless.

Alastair Reynolds wrote a good series of books (Blue Remembered Earth) where AR was envisioned rather extensively and it was compelling. As such I view AR as the future of all computing and the market correspondingly huge.

There is a much much lower limit of people willing to wear something on their head for entertainment purposes. Couple that with a cost to buying good hardware and I think VR experiences will be limited to gaming industry. Second Life never really took off as a social space. A 3D social media app would be clunky for end users compared to a phone. I believe the interactions people value the most on social media are seeing others pics/posts and marketplaces for buying/selling things. Neither of those would transfer well to 3D.

If they are betting the company on VR and a "metaverse" then maybe they have reached a cap on unique users already and the growth of FB is done.

There is also a reluctance to abandon the real world, even for short periods, that I think people underestimate. Even if it were perfect, there are plenty of people who just don't want to do things in VR. They want to be in the real world, doing real world things with their real world friends. I think that's where AR has the true advantage, not in the experience of the medium but rather that you aren't fully committing to the virtual world.

"Second Life never really took off as a social space."

Not everything has to be a household name to be considered a success. Second life is very niche and very successful.

I agree that it doesn't have to be a household name but the level of investment and market expectations on Meta/FB is growth. If they have a niche (aka small) and successful metaverse, the larger market won't expect growth and that would reflect in the stock price.

My experience with VR is that there is a period of acclimatization. At first it is tough to go 30min. I got up to being able to use it for an enjoyable 3 hours or at least the full duration of the battery for watching and gaming. I find when I come back from a long vacation with no screens, looking at a monitor for 7 hours is tough.

I used to think the same thing, and had personal experience backing it up when buying my Quest a few years ago. I simply stopped using it after a while when the novelty wore off. What has actually happened though is that I started returning to it and can now spend many hours a day in VR (both for workout and for entertainment).

> Anyone remember that Next Big Thing was supposed to be 3D TVs?

No. I remember TV companies pushing it since it was cheap for them to include and they hoped people would think of it as the "Next Big Thing", but consumers and especially reviewers during the aughts saw right through it.

Even in the 90's I remember it being seen as a short-lived novelty more than anything: https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1997-05-02-970502...

Regardless what you think of VR I think there are clearly far more bulls than 3D TV ever had.

A non-trivial percentage of the population get motion sickness easily. VR is a non-starter for them.

Only for certain apps. I have friends that got a lot of motion sickness from the original DK2. They don't get it anymore except in games where you walk with your stick. But playing let's say Beat Saber is fine.

Then there's the sweating and the standing in the middle of the room for hours(?) and the weird, clunky, dissociated controls.

I'd be curious what that percentage is now. The tech has improved enormously, as have developers understanding of what to avoid software-wise. Not a single person (dozens) I have shared my Quest with had this problem.

Cursory googling says 1/3 of population

Are we talking about 1/3 of the population is susceptibile to motion sickness in general, or specifically VR motion sickness? Because those are 2 different things and I doubt a significant number of the population was trialed with modern VR in order to get a such a clear cut result.

My Quest 2 doesn't give me motion sickness at all but I am susceptible to motion sickness when someone is driving/flying or on a boat. Still, two very distinct things that make a very different statistic.

To what degree, though? Some people get sick using vehicles in real life, and they still tolerate it for the most part.

It seems probable that motion sickness in VR will be less of a problem in the future as technology and techniques improve. Most people seem to be able to cope with it at the current level.

> Some people get sick using vehicles in real life, and they still tolerate it for the most part.

I’d say getting around has more utility than being in the metaverse.

I think this is something that can be solved with more investment into electronics, alternative optics and display (e.g. Google-glass style display), as well as UX research.

I don’t see how. Motion sickness is a discrepancy between visual stimulus and signals from the vestibular system. If you show people motion and the don’t feel the motion, they will get motion sickness (to varying degree)

There are many VR applications that don't need to move the view separately from user input. Exercise programs for example, and a lot of office telepresence probably falls into this.

3D has come and gone many times over the history of cinema, from the red/cyan glasses, the (Pulfrich) glasses with a single shaded lens, shuttered glasses and polarized screens.

While the image quality and frame rate have improved, there are still fundamental limitations on the technology. One common pushback is that some people will get headaches due to scanning the scene, trying to focus on objects at their false depths.

3D film is a pain, way more than double the work. So most 3D content actually was made 3D in post rather than filming with multiple cameras.

Still, the way you would frame a scene to be 'interesting' in 3D is different from how you would do so in 2D. This usually results in being able to 'tell' whether a movie you are watching was primarily made for one market or another.

VR adds something other than image quality - it adds the ability to be immersed in the content. However you still have the same issues:

- So far, we don't have consumer headsets that enable you to actually focus on the objects in the scene. For example, you can't hold a piece of paper up to your face to read the fine print. - Trying to capture certain kinds of media is infeasibly expensive in VR, both from a post-production cost perspective and a data size expectation. Live action basically is too difficult.

The latest incarnation of 3D movies were in a sense a clever business maneuver - it created a premium tier of movie experience and got many theaters to start upgrading their older projection equipment and screens to newer digital alternatives.

For home use, 3D movies were weird because they didn't follow the traditional hype curve. A lot of early adoption was by families, where unfortunately the shutter glasses still tended to be too expensive for young hands. But that market has the same thing - manufacturers will eventually take technology and reduce it down to cost, so how can you compel people to buy the newest fancy screen where you still have a good margin?

Note several television manufacturers are now trying to proceed advertising and sales revenue, which is why smart TVs have now taken over - a 15-30% cut on a HBO Max subscription adds up to real money quickly over their typically poor margins on the sale of the set.

100% agree with your point. I don't believe in a broad VR future. A movie, just as an open-world video game, lives of its content and storyline. I watched Avatar in 3D and it was great, but not because it was 3D, because it is a good movie. Even in 2D this would be very enjoyable. Same holds true for video games. I don't think Witcher 3 would have significant more success if it was in VR or the experience would be orders of magnitudes better just because of VR. Same as any shitty game with bad story, unlovely crafted characters etc. will not be good just because it is VR.

If the Metaverse means I can watch hatespeech + antivaxx posts, pictures of peoples lunch on a 3D canvas or cat videos, I pass.

I suspect that a TikTok VR/AR play could push VR usage ahead by quite a bit. Creators could use Kinect cameras to capture their space in 3D, and viewers could project them into their house. VR Chat is already very popular with people who have headsets, but it’s also not a very good experience and is low fidelity.

> Even in 2D this would be very enjoyable.

I can confirm that it was.

> 3D has come and gone many times over the history of cinema

So has VR a couple of times in the history of computer based entertainment, so the analogy hold IMO.

> VR adds something other than image quality - it adds the ability to be immersed in the content

Exactly. And it needs content that is noticeably improved by VR without obvious disadvantages, and there have been few examples of where the benefit has been enough to counter the faf. I've played a bit of Elite with an expensive VR setup and it was great but that doesn't hit the movement issue as being sat in a fixed place matches the immersion requirement of the largest part of the game (being sat in a cockpit), and I'm told Half-Life: Alyx is good enough that the constraints imposed by VR don't impact the immersion enough to break it. But those are the only two examples I can cite: you need people like me (a techie who doesn't game much at all these days despite doing so a lot a decade or two ago) and the less techie public to be able to identify more than two or three great examples for the product to have any hope of being more than niche. This isn't just a technology gap (between what we can do now and what people see on TV with things like the holodeck) but also an issue of making suitable content good enough is more difficult to get right.

VR seems more interactive and way stickier, I don’t think you can necessarily compare it to 3D TVs, in the same way a computer and TV are very different.

Having said that, I’m also skeptical of the whole metaverse thing, as we had that stuff a long time ago already (Second Life) and it was a flop. VR needs to become extremely ubiquitous and hassle-free for such a thing to work.

> as we had that stuff a long time ago already (Second Life) and it was a flop

A flop? I remember watching a documentary a while back saying some people were totally addicted to it. I'm not sure if they're still afloat these days, though. Might go the way of Playstation Home (which I genuinely liked!).

I'm sure that you can find people who are huge fans (addicted as a news article might call them) to any technology or gaming product. The world is huge. There are, for example, people who loved Windows Phone and Zune. But just because a product has a fanatical core doesn't mean it'll eventually take off - or even maintain viability.

Most of the draw was that you could design your own avatar. There were a lot of furries.

>I remember watching a documentary a while back saying some people were totally addicted to it

not necessarily a good thing

Second Life is still active almost 20 years later, I don't know why people keep using the past tense.

Idk if it is just me but I find VR headsets just tiring after a point.

Quite a few people do here. I doubt I could wear them for extended periods either. I personally have to take a break after wearing headphones for a few hours, I couldn't imagine wearing a VR headset of all things.

The first part of your reply doesn't line up with the second. In what way are 3D TVs a healthy niche? They are mostly dead. I also can't remember anyone actually using their 3D TV or buying a TV because of its 3D capabilities (most TVs at that time had the feature anyway). Whereas stores stocked up on Quest during the holidays because of demand. I don't think your reply accurately describes reality.

Also, this isn't the first go round with VR. Google Glass launched publicly in 2014 and the original Oculus Rift launched in 2016. I remember tons of discussions around enterprise adoption of VR in 2016-2017 with use cases ranging from immersive marketing campaigns to technicians using them to troubleshoot equipment.

First thing I thought about too.

Metaverse is not a utopia but a dystopia!

edit: typo

I am both a fan of blockchain and VR. I also have a strong cynic inside of me that trashes on both of them whenever it can. It's fun being me I suppose :)

Blockchain is IMO in a much much much more questionable state of relevancy and usefulness than VR.


I workout in VR (supplemental workouts by playing Eleven Table Tennis to the max).

I boardgame in VR (Demeo).

My GF picks up my headset and plays Beatsaber.

You can have multiple screens in VR. While I'm not the biggest fan of them, I will be if I'd travel to another country, not being able to bring my monitors.

Oh, and I've convinced quite a few of my friends to do the same (workout, gaming, productivity).

VR is already here mate. People game, people exercise, people get new experiences by watching VR videos (I got better at skiing because of it), people are using its productivity apps to design stuff (think about designing game in Unreal Engine using VR). There are certain use-cases in which VR outperforms anything else (and in most use-cases it doesn't).

VR has tons of uses!

It's not perfect by any means, but we're slowly getting there. 4000x4000 per eye is the hallmark I will be patiently waiting for. Better omni-directional threadmills are something I will hope for. We already are beginning to have haptic feedback suits from owo. I'm not a fan of haptic feedback suits, but others are.

VR is here to stay. It won't replace anything, it will augment how we are going about our daily stuff.

Whereas with blockchain, well, it's mostly used for speculation and I still haven't seen people use it as a legitimate currency. And this includes myself! Like, I used bitcoin to buy a bitcoin wallet, but does that count? I don't think so. The current use of blockchain in terms of cryptocurrencies is speculation (at the moment) and I am hoping it will change, but I wonder if it ever will. And I am a fan of the whole thing, but let's not kid ourselves. I hope the unbanked will use it. I hope people in super high inflationary countries will use it (because as volatile is bitcoin is, it beats any currency with hyper inflation). Unfortunately, I don't have any insights on the unbanked.

>You can have multiple screens in VR. While I'm not the biggest fan of them, I will be if I'd travel to another country, not being able to bring my monitors.

This is the problem with VR. It started the adoption process the wrong way - instead of positioning itself as a work enabling tool that you buy for a killer feature - it's just a gimmicky toy that has reasonable stigma around it among normal people (non-techies).

If your phone was just a 1000$ gaming handheld it would be a niche product, at best something like a 3DS. But gaming is the biggest market on phones.

Likewise if VR ever wanted to get mainstream adoption it needed to have a killer feature like enabling ultra portable/productive workspaces. Imagine everyone working from home buying a 500$ VR headset for remote work - totally reasonable - in the price range of a monitor. And then you have a huge market for games when the people are used to it. Now it's just a nerdy gimmick.

The pc used to be like this, it will change. Remember when people in high school called us nerds? Now many more people want to be "nerds". We will slowly adopt to VR. It has enough use already, use (!), not potential, use!

PC is a tool and you can play games on it, just like your mobile phone is a phone/pocket computer that you can also game on.

The way I see VR right now is a niche version of a gaming console with high barriers to entry and bad image. Gaming consoles took decades to get widespread adoption.

I rented a VR headset for a month a while ago. I think I bought most of the top games to play around with, but all feel a bit gimmicky and lacking depth.

I'd claim that VR will be niche until it becomes AR. When I can see my keyboard and get multiple floaty screens,that will be productivity. Pokemon Go in AR? Skyrim AR? AR shooters in converted warehouses? Horror games in my house? That'll be games.

I play golf+ and really liked it. There's a great tennis one too.

Practicing without the weight of impact of a club/racket is good.

Its niche but definitely a new dawn for gaming. FB might be too early but they're in the right space.

I hated Golf+ but for all the right reasons. I now know I will hate actual golf as well.

> When I can see my keyboard and get multiple floaty screens,that will be productivity.

The Quest 2 supports the magic keyboard and has multiple screens in the home screen.

Have you played Eleven Table Tennis? Have you played Thrill of the Fight? That's exercise right there!

you can already see your keyboard, table, sofa, as well as have multiple floaty screens.

I had a HTC Vive Pro (2?). I didnt see that feature. Is that a Quest 2 feature?

Yep, Quest 2 feature.

I apologize for the pedantry but "blockchain" != "cryptocurrency." My inner cynic is bearish on cryptocurrencies, VR (at least in broad adoption), and to a lesser extent blockchain tech but of the three the one that has the least-worst chance of finding a useful broad fit IMO is the use of blockchain tech since it's really nothing more than a trustless method of double-entry accounting and a potential means of avoiding the risk of direct federation for service providers (you stop being the single point of failure/data breach target).

Sadly I also suspect that blockchain will go down with the whole cryptocurrency ship due to guilt-by-association, much like the AI winter that followed the overhyped 1980s era took with it a number of viable limited-domain solutions that had to wander the desert for 20-30 years before being revivified for the current AI/ML efforts.

> I apologize for the pedantry but "blockchain" != "cryptocurrency."

Well I challenge you to find a single real-life use of blockchain that is not tied to cryptocurrencies then.

Find a single problem that is best solved using blockchain, but doesn't involve crypto.

OK, 4-5 years ago I was hired by a startup building a data storage/sharing hardware solution that emphasized security. Each storage device could be a an ad hoc member of a group of devices and there were multiple users for each device/group. Individual chunks of data (be it files, filesystems, dirs, etc) had ownership and privileges as did the devices themselves.

What the startup did NOT want to be is the single source of authority or federation for permissions, group membership, user management, etc (they would not only become the single point of attack but the devices themselves would be dependent upon the existence of the company continuing to provide federation services, so going-out-of-business would render the devices useless).

The most obvious solution to those issues was a blockchain-based system. As long as devices existed they could continue to interop, the entries in the blockchain provided audit trails, the entries could be replayed for sync purposes, etc.

I agree, and fair enough. VR will get broad adoption, a few things need to happen before it will (e.g. 4000x4000 per eye) but the hardware innovations needed to get there aren't big wild things. They are simply things that will become a thing through incremental progress.

> VR has tons of uses!

Basically, limited to niche games and simulation training. Where as AR has more usefulness than VR does. But it doesn't matter since Meta is working in both of those industries.

> Whereas with blockchain, well, it's mostly used for speculation and I still haven't seen people use it as a legitimate currency.

What is wrong with using stablecoins? Everyone knows Bitcoin has failed in being useful for payments or how very volatile it is for a business to use.

Stablecoins have the worst of both worlds. You have the stablecoin issuers printing like crazy and you have the no chargebacks part of crypto.

> You have the stablecoin issuers printing like crazy.

Who is exactly printing tons of these stablecoins, USDP? or any other regulated stablecoin?

> and you have the no chargebacks part of crypto.

And using cryptocurrencies eliminates chargeback fraud which that is abused by the users. The merchants can get their accounts shutdown and their money withheld for months due to the payment processors locking the money and they always side with the bank, which of whom have no context if the chargeback is fraudulent or not.

I don't see how one can use stablecoins for speculation purposes, which one can do with Bitcoin, which that is completely unsuitable for payments.

USDT(#1) and USDC(#2) have printed 150 billion dollars out of thin air. If you look by volume, these are the only 2 coins being used in any real capacity

> I still haven't seen people use it as a legitimate currency. And this includes myself

Pre-covid we had a bar that accepted BTC using Lightning Network :(

A bar willing to accept BTC is not "using it as a currency". Some people get paid in BTC too. Or Tesla accepted BTC for a while. They're just investing in BTC automatically. It's not being used as a currency until the same entities are both buying and selling with BTC.

And that assumes they aren't using one of those services that accepts BTC and automatically converts it to USD at the time of the sale.

>>He made a school yearbook on the internet and copied some features from existing social networks like MySpace. Facebook was just in the right place...

Well. That's the key point. Lots of people did social networks. Several had a lot if success with them. Remember circa 2007? FB was one of many. Zuck made a social network that (a) got and stayed popular (b) made no way and (c) successfully changed user behaviour. Before FB, social media was mostly anonymous and targeted at young, fringe or techno-elite online culture. FB are mass market.

I agree that VR is yet to be seen, and that fb's ability to execute is dubious. But, Zuck is more capable than most/all CEOs of social media seen this far.

Twitter us more if a lucky shot.

It remains true though that social media, generally, is not technically demanding. That said, the demands of scale complicate that. Look at Amazon and aws.

There aren't many fb-scale tech companies out there. It's not competition in an infinite field. It's competition in a field of one.. or perhaps three. JPMorgan or Berkshire Hathaway aren't going to beat them at this game. If it's a matter of beating other mega scale tech shops, it may be just a matter of executing better than not executing.

Competition at the ground floor (say series A) is brutal. Even if you're brilliant, you probably need a great strategy and greater luck. Competition at the mid range is meaningful. A Zara, Boots or OnePlus or whatnot still need to beat other players. At the FB/google level... there just aren't enough players. They don't necessarily compete at all, against other players. Products can succeed or fail, but it's not about head to head abilities. Where competition actually exists, like azure/aws, at best it's usually a field of 2 or 6 possible competitors with a chance of outside disruption. They're not in a "beat restaurant in town" game.

Facebook wasn't just at the right place though. They figured out that people wanted to use their real names on social networks.

I loved Myspace. I met so many cool people in my 20s in that 2-3 year window they had that I never would have otherwise. My mom though was never joining Myspace. Myspace was almost closer to a dating site to find new friends as much as connecting with people you already knew.

VR/AR is already an established and necessary modality at several industrial use cases. It's definetly NOT a gimmick. Think of it as a HUD with situational awareness.

Games are not really a good example of why you would want to have that. Not at least yet.

See for example


VR as a new way of human existence as the current metaverse hype claims - for that, I've not seen any concrete proofs of yet.

I personally don't think VR is a good play. Personally, I just can't binge on anything with VR. It's just not comfortable. But maybe we haven't had enough hardware innovation yet.

I have the same experience. I have tried my friends VR set a few times and another one at a work party, and overall it was pretty underwhelming. Uncomfortable, a bit nausea inducing and nothing particularly impressive. Kind of cool to try out, but not something I would want to use every day or pay for. At the current state I don't see what's the fuss about.

Also VR as some kind of social networking replacement seems unlikely to me because huge par of the time people spend on social networks is not while sitting at home dedicating time to this activity. Most people are not going to lug around VR headset everywhere they go.

I strongly believe we didn't have enough hardware innovation. I tried watching movies as well and it sucked.

I would recommend VR videos though, there are a few from Oculus TV which are amazing, they are an entirely new experience.

> Facebook was just in the right place at the right time and executed well.

I wouldn't even go that far: it was merely executed well enough that it didn't squander being in the right place at the right time by being terrible.

This is one of the reasons why getting a minimal viable product out quickly (where the definition of “minimal viable” includes that not-being-terrible caveat) can be so important when working on a new idea.

This is just wrong. I would question if you ever went on Myspace.

Facebook figured out that using your real full name in an electronic social network had huge advantages in terms of connecting your real world social network.

They killed Myspace because of the network effect the above had when people started finding their friends from high school easily online. Early on I think you even had to join a network specifically for your high school so everyone had their first and last names along with their labeling for their high school.

It sounds stupid and obvious now but before Facebook the average person didn't broadcast their first and last name on the internet.

Nothing that you describe contradicts "executed well enough not absolutely well".

Right thing¹, right place, right time, executed well enough.

[1] whether this thing was an act of genius or just the right thing if several thrown at the wall, we could possibly debate.

I don't think it's going to die as quickly as you think - it's a pretty sticky product. The network effects that made it attractive might kill it pretty fast when they evaporate, but it's going to be a major player in adtech for at least a decade, which might just give it time to be "saved" by some of the plays they're now pivoting towards.

On the ethics thing: they introduced some mechanisms around this, but the appointment of Nick Clegg to drive this as head of "Global Affairs" was always an eyebrow-raiser for those even slightly politically aware in the UK, and predictably less effective than FB management needed him to be (note: I voted Lib Dem in 2010 because I believed in his leadership - it's what he did next that showed the warning signs).

I think another quarter of decline and we might see a major shake-up, and I wouldn't be amazed to see Whatsapp getting payment (including crypto) functionality as a bit of Hail Mary to build another social network moat.

Are we reading the same comment? @randomsearch said it would take decades for the company to decline.

Right, but PaulRobinson is thinking in geological time.

WhatsApp already does payments in India (and few other countries?) [1]

[1]: https://www.whatsapp.com/payments/

This is what I see when I click on your link:

> The payments feature on App is not available in this country.

Are you in India?

No. Given that the link was used as a source, I thought I would see a list of countries where the payment feature is supported.

It is currently being piloted in the US and Guatemala. [0] This WhatsApp link also works. [1]

[0] https://www.novi.com/how-it-works

[1] https://www.whatsapp.com/payments/us

Also in Brazil

I agree, despite this headline, the more I see fb becoming a part of everyday life for the vast majority of people (in the UK). It's amazing how much of what normal people consume and even buy now happens on fb. I wouldn't write them off just yet

Since then, Facebook have innovated very little.

I hope they hadn't even tried. Initially, Facebook offered lots of value in the early years in the form that users were actually able to follow their friends' lives and stay connected. You had a bunch of friends and you would see a mostly chronological list of what they had posted that you read until you recognized something you had already seen. If they had kept it that simple Facebook might actually be something I'd be willing to pay for. The newsfeed is absolutely the core of the product and they started ruining it about ten years ago, and very steadily at that.

I agree. Adding Messenger, groups, and events were good moves, but they ruined the feed so badly it soured the whole thing. Should've stuck to being social networking instead of trying to be whatever the feed is supposed to be now.

They could've easily expanded into more social features, longer-form stuff like Livejournal, personal creative stuff like Deviantart, and personal creative/selling like Etsy and Bandcamp and print-on-demand books, etc.

Another killer feature they flopped on was personas. Nobody really wants their entire extended family, current former and potential coworkers and bosses, customers, preacher, old friends, romantic interests, drug dealer, and fetish group all hanging out together in the same room talking. So people made separate accounts and different names but Facebook continually fought hard against that very basic nature of human social networking.

Instead of any social-networking improvements to their core, they just removed all the value from the feed. And then bought out another messenger and another place to post photos, both of which they already had. Then a halfhearted videos thing and now a VR Second Life clone.

I'm pretty much in it for the baby pictures and vacation photos at this point, but those are starting to thin out as my friends and loose connections are moving on from the platform.

Well, I dunno. My friends don't post anything any more. Maybe to instagram, but even that is less now.

Facebook needed to fill that gap with content from elsewhere. That's where influencers and content creators came in. Who are way less interesting than your friends, but they do post content regularly.

I don't think facebook had a choice.

Why don't they post? For the same reason I don't post much if anything on Facebook: my posts won't reach my friends except by happenstance. Everyone I know has observed that when you go to look at your friend's profile you will see posts that you've missed because they have never been shown to you before.

It's like only one in ten SMS texts would actually reach the other party: people would complain about SMS being broken just like they complain Facebook doesn't show them what they want to see.

Instead of your friend's posts you will see half a dozen random posts from your friends each day, too often from one prolific poster, and the rest is ads or group spam. Why bother writing anything relevant, deep, or fun when only a fraction of your friends will ever see it.

You could be right, but I'm not sure that's it. I think the novelty just wore off. The people you care about you post pictures to in private groups. Why post to 400 other acquaintances who aren't really friends? I think people just don't bother any more.

Facebook changed when it decided its best source of revenue was advertising and that it would own the ad inventory (Google did the same thing, and with similar loss-of-value to users, which also devalued the underlying behavior the company depended upon for quality targeting).

I think that Facebook's only real revenue option that would have also retained the fundamental value of the social network and its effects was to behave either as a third-party sentiment/preference analysis service ala Nielsen Ratings or as a source of ad targeting for individuals (based on their sentiments/preferences expressed within FB) that could be sold for use external to the FB experience... and I have suspicions that even the latter might have eventually led to distorting that core FB experience.

The social network and the behaviors within it were only truly valuable if externally observed without intervention. By pushing behaviors that FB itself wanted users to perform they broke the uniquely valuable part.

Just use facebook.com/?sk=h_chr, you'll get your chronological feed minus the content recommender.

That unfortunately doesn't work and hasn't ever. I do get a different selection of recent posts (instead of top posts) but only a few, they're mostly the same through a day, and I'm still missing out on most of my friend's posts (which I can cross-check by visiting friends' profiles).

There used to be way to view posts off a friend list, and you could then create a list of all of your friends to emulate the old newsfeed (or The Wall). This at least tried to work except it also only tracked back so far, it still did miss posts (but not as many as the other two views), and most importantly the friend list feed was scrapped last year.

I've had no problem with it, no repetitions and only what follows post.

> … VR is a good play

I find your analysis excellent apart from this bit. It’s really far from obvious to me that VR has any future outside a gaming niche.

The current attitude towards VR, and the "metaverse" in general, has got to be the second most delusional thing I have ever seen - due in no small part to the close integration with NFTs, the first most delusional obsession I've seen. It's complete and utter vaporware, with absolutely nothing behind it. I have done lots and lots of reading about the metaverse, what it promises, what it wants, and I still can't find a place where substituting the word "metaverse" with "cyberspace" doesn't create the same sentence. But everyone is afraid of missing out on the "next evolution of the internet" that all rational thought has gone out of the window. VR is not the future of anything besides the mentioned gaming niche.

VR is the future of porn. I’m not convinced it’s the future of anything else. VR gaming sucks.

VR gaming has potential that is not realized due to people sticking with game formats they know work. Innovative game design is going to be needed, but once it's here it will definitely have something else.

And also yeah, VR porn. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Aix8NuU8pE is relevant LOL.

> VR gaming sucks.

Someone who spends 1-2 hours a day using Oculus, I wholeheartedly disagree.

To each their own. The only game I ever had fun playing was beat saber. Everything else required way too much room.

Google Earth and msfs are pretty fun.

As much as I like VR I have to agree it will stay a niche product. The need to wear something on your head is a major hurdle. Like 3D TV's that have mostly disappeared. Also when you are in a VR environment you want to interact with it. You need free physical space to do that which is an other hurdle. There are more niches than gaming only though. Like education and product design and demonstration.

The main problem with 3D tv was the content. 3D really only works with bad movies like resident evil. You are not going to have need or want 3d in a movie that is an oscar contender.

(Avatar as the single exception)

Ehh, the content is the problem because there is a lack of bad content ? There's a heap of 3D content and growing. Like last years Marvell movies, James Bond, Dune. And movie theaters still show those in 3D. Which works because people go to a movie theater for the experience and donning 3D glasses is a minor annoyance with that mindset. Most people don't go to the movies very often. However people wanting to view a quick movie at home don't want that annoyance. It's a bit the same with VR I think. When you go to an arcade or a friends house the space is already available and you accept being isolated because it's expected. Going for a quick VR session at home is an anti social hassle (unless you got a dedicated VR room or live alone).

I'm just saying that things flying out of the screen rarely add value to the movie. I had 3d tv and my only shows for it were some documentaries, Avatar, Paddington bear, and 3d adventure of tintin.

2 kids movies

1 animated movie

some short but interesting documentaries.

(horror movies runner up (mostly resident evil lol)

Not exactly market crushing content.

This reminds me of a joke Norm MacDonald did on his podcast:

Did you see the Great Gatsby? Did you see it in 3D? It was almost like the sober examination of the unrestrained materialism and absent moral center of the roaring 20s jumped right out at you.

"Gravity" won seven Oscars.

The timeline for consumer level glasses with ar + vr will begin shipping 2023. "Apple" level ones 2025. These devices will be as ubiquitious as the smartphone or earbuds.

And perhaps as ubiquitous as Google Glass.

A glorified heads-up display, neither AR nor VR, and well before its time.

Consumers do not want to wear glasses.

I think they will wear them anyways

This comment sums up the state of consumer tech so well.

"Consumers don't want it, but they will use it anyways, because Apple/whoever said so"

Not necessarily. Apple tried to push small phones (for various reasons). People refused, and Apple had to cave.

What are you thinking makes them consumer level? Just cheaper? Because price isn’t the main problem.

Bad take given how well the Oculus Quest 2 is selling.

Primary improvements in OQ2 over previous headsets: Higher Quality + Lower Price + More Portable.

Very easy for me to believe if you just keep improving in those areas you end up with a device that will be present in every lower-middle-class+ household.

I have a valve index, one of the best VR headsets available. It sits in my closet and I haven’t touched it in over a year.

VR is one of those things that’s really fun to use at your friend’s house, but not something you want to use daily.

Because the Valve index is very expensive and needs to be tethered to an also expresive gaming PC via cumbersome cables plus the need to install the IR lighthouses in your living-room, and require maintenance of drivers and VR compatible SW(I was a PC gamer, I know). All this expense, physical installation work and general friction is a non-starter for most consumers and that's why yours sits on the shelf unused.

The Quest(2) is not tethered but has the "gaming PC" built inside of it, no need to bolt lighthouses to your living room walls, and has the frictionless ecosystem polish of the PS/X-box. So it sits charging on my couch, always updating itself and the games in the background, and when I have 10 minutes of boredom during WFH, I can slip it on my head and will instantly resume the last game state I was on, no cables, no PC, no maintaining or curating drivers and SW, none of that stuff. Zero friction. And I can also put it in my backpack and take it to a friend's place instead of having the whole setup bolted to my living room.

I also had work colleagues with gaming PCs buy the Index and return it in the 30 day window after getting bored of the nuisance of cables and SW, then buy a Quest 2 and keep it.

The Quest absolutely killed the Index for the mainstream VR market and got Valve to move in the same direction.

That doesn't explain why someone who has an Index doesn't use it. The setup and expense is just one time. The updates are all automatic via Steam. It's just a matter of putting on the headset and go. And yet, just like @wayoutthere , I find myself using it less and less. Not because lack of content either. It's just so inconvenient and awkward to isolate yourself from the other people in vicinity. Plus you'll be moving your arms without regards of your physical environment. So basically you need a room with a 2 meter by 2 meter clear space and no other people available. Most people don't have that. I used the quest 2. Personally I was not impressed. Graphics are soft and simple compared to the Index and the field of view is so small. You can tether it to a PC for better graphics but then you loose the main advantage of not having a cable. And you still keep a small field of view.

>That doesn't explain why someone who has an Index doesn't use it. [...] It's just a matter of putting on the headset and go.

It definitely is not (saying as a PC gamer for over 15 years). If you don't already use your gaming PC regularly for other stuff so that the whole loading, update and maintenance is part of the daily experience anyway, then, you first have to fire up the gaming PC, wait for it to load, login to Windows, then you might have Windows nagging you for an update, then maybe Nvidia gaming hub or whatever they're calling it nowadays nags you for an update, then maybe you have to reboot, then open the steam launcher, then maybe that also want some updates, then fire up the game, then you have to clear your surrounding environment to make room for the cable tether and make sure you don't trip on it, then put on the Index, then finally you can play.

To most people that wohle ritual gets annoying and puts off the casual gamers who want a quick gaming session every now and then without dealing with any of that crap. The Quest is literally just put on and go since it's just like a console, which is also more popular for gaming than PCs for the convenience and the lack of friction.

If you only use your PC one day a month then yes, you may have to wait sometimes for updates. If you use your PC a few hours every week, nope. If you only use your Quest 2 once a month you've demonstrated my point: there is a barrier to using it.

Windows updates don't prompt anymore. They download automatically and apply at the next reboot. Steam starts at boot and updates every thing in the background. Never had an Nvidia popup, don't use anything else than a driver for my GPU. As soon as you put on the headset and turn on the controllers it wakes up, starts SteamVR and you can play. I don't care how long you've been a PC gamer in the past. The time that gaming on Windows was a chore is long gone. Stuff just works on Windows now.

>If you only use your Quest 2 once a month you've demonstrated my point: there is a barrier to using it.

Which barrier? People can game twice a month due to lack of time, not because of a barrier from the device. And those two times a month they have the time to game, they want to jump into the game directly, not do OS/driver/game updates first.

That's one of the reasons the Quest destroyed the Valve index in sales and why consoles are more popular then PCs for gaming.

That’s actually not my problem with it; my big problem with it is that the whole thing gives me a headache after about 15 minutes. And you can’t use your phone, have something on in the background, etc. Also basically every game was way easier to play outside VR.

In my mind it’s a novelty you will be far more productive without.

I think maybe because you haven't played any great titles bespoke made for a fun experience in VR. I think this is where the Quest shines. It's not trying to play PC games in VR, but it has great titles made bespoke for it wich are great fun in VR. Same how you don't buy a Switch to play PC games, but you play the games made by Nintendo for it which are also great fun. Quest has the fun factor through its library of great VR titles. Without any fun VR titles, the Index is just an expensive peripheral. The ecosystem makes the whole experience make or break.

>And you can’t use your phone, have something on in the background, etc.

I don't get what you meant here.

The Index has plenty of VR titles; there’s a whole VR section in steam with all the standard ones (there really aren’t that many native VR games, maybe a hundred give or take), Half Life: Alyx, Serious Sam VR, etc.

My favorite VR experience was actually a game that wasn’t designed for VR but sort of serendipitously worked extremely well (Elite: Dangerous). Space dogfights in VR are incredible and super-immersive. It still gave me a headache after a bit of playtime but I usually pushed through until my ship was out of ammo and I needed to reload.

But after playing E:D in VR, most VR native games like Space Pirate Simulator, Beat Saber or Superhot VR just feel like shallow toys. E:D is closer to an immersive experience than any of them; I actively wanted to stay in VR longer but my eyes would not let me.

> I don't get what you meant here.

I meant that it’s hard to simultaneously perform VR and non-VR activities (or switch back and forth between them quickly).

Anecdotally, I know people with both Indexes and Quest 2s, and from my experience the Q2 gets way fewer strain/headache/motion sickness complaints than the Index.

Note: it already has a health niche. Now that I think about it, one could create a startup in that space. The health niche will be expanding. I'd argue that Apple is excellently positioned for VR.

The acquisition strategy could have worked going forwards, seeing as there's not much anti-trust will in the U.S. against M&A, but the problem is that they missed the chance to buy musical.ly (bought for $1 billion by ByteDance in 2017) which became TikTok. If they had made this acquisition they would be in a very different position.

Looking at my teenage kids and their friends, they barely use Instagram (let alone Facebook), it's all about TikTok.

> Looking at my teenage kids and their friends

I wonder how important this demographic really is. I understand there's an argument for kids being the future, and so on, but almost everyone I know with disposible income is on Instagram and Facebook, via the apps, and seeing ads. As teenage kids stop being teenage kids, they're going to start caring about sharing baby photos and travel photos and cyber-bullying their mayor and stuff, for which the only games in town are Instagram and FB. In short, I don't think it matters if teenagers are ignoring the platforms as long as they age into them, which I think they might well, especially considering kids don't actually have much money to spend.

> I don't think it matters if teenagers are ignoring the platforms as long as they age into them

During my elementary school days, we had a small course to teach us about economics and corporate values. The examine two old companies: Nintendo and Reader's Digest. Both companies predated our grandparents and they asked if they would both outlive us as students. The "correct" answer for the assignment was that Reader's Digest would continue on into the 22nd century while Nintendo would be out of business before the 21st. The reasoning was that Nintendo markets to children, who are both broke and fickle, while Reader's Digest markets to mature professionals, who are loyal and wealthy. No one would continue to play video games after the age of twelve and everyone with a college degree who hit thirty would subscribe to Reader's Digest

For those who are unaware, Reader's Digest declared bankruptcy in 2013 and was solve off for £1. Nintendo is currently worth $55 billion.

I always remember that lesson when people talk about how children will age out of enjoying the things that they currently enjoy and age into caring about the things that their parents care about.

> considering kids don't actually have much money to spend

This does presume that the metric is money and not eyeballs; from where I sit tech in general cares little about revenue and a lot about "daily active users".

Despite that, if you can brainwash 0-15 year olds into the belief that your brand is great, the future goodwill may offer significant rewards as you evolve with your users.

>Despite that, if you can brainwash 0-15 year olds into the belief that your brand is great, the future goodwill may offer significant rewards as you evolve with your users.

I know we're all on HN and know how the sausage is made, but nonetheless that's such a dystopian sentence to have to write! I genuinely believe that the attention (ie manipulation) economy will be today's lead paint and asbestos.

It helps to say it out loud every now and then.

There are shops I never go into, radio stations I never tune into, and products I never buy because in my mind they're frusty and old fashioned. My opinions about them will never change. If FB are in this bracket, their long-term growth is dead without major innovation to cause a reversal.

I remember reading Richard Bransons autobiography, and there’s a line in there about him watching what his kids where into that led him to get into some business that’s was a huge success. Don’t remember any more details, but they are the future consumers. Heck, FB used to only even be available to broke college students!

> they're going to start caring about sharing baby photos and travel photos and cyber-bullying their mayor and stuff, for which the only games in town are Instagram and FB

You're assuming that TikTok won't evolve in a span of 10 years.

I don't think they're competing against each other. TikTok is competing against youtube, which are both competing against traditional network television such as nick or disney. Fb and Instagram's lack of growth has little to do with the success of the other, they just missed their opportunity to move in the more curated video space.

I think the shift to VR is actually FB acknowledging they lost the mobile platform battle and can not depend on Apple and Google for its future, so it must move the game on. VR is a platform in which they have a head start and own top to bottom with Oculus.

Essentially Zuckerberg is fast forwarding the future so he’ll have place to sell ads in without a 3rd part like Apple setting the rules.

This is also why he goes full VR and not AR which would likely require a phone somewhere on the side.

> Zuckerberg got lucky and then executed brilliantly, transitioned from nerd hacker to CEO amazingly well. He deserves a lot of credit for that.

I used to work for an extremely unfashionable website that nevertheless was one of the most visited on the web (even though you'd probably be surprised by that if you knew the site) and my experience there was that leadership tried to replicate that success with dozens of other products and never once was able to do it. So much of what made the original site successful was timing and luck.

Look at all the massive tech companies that took root in 2000s. Most are tied to privileged kids who won the birth lottery, had access to computers, and the financial cushion to "try shit". Google, Facebook, PayPal, and earlier - Microsoft.

Convincing my parents to buy a computer so I could program was a struggle. We were on public assistance.

I am not saying that it's all like winning a lottery - you still have to take advantage of the opportunity, but they were born in Earth's orbit when trying to launch to the Moon, while most of us had to overcome gravity first.

Luck is not everything, but it IS a factor.

What baffles me is how they pretty much destroyed the social network aspect of it.

10 years ago Facebook was the place to know what’s going on in your social circle. You’d find out about events or share experiences, setting relationship status was something of significance.

Then the feed became more and more laden with sponsored posts or posts by meme pages. Sharing something personal in this kind of environment suddenly felt awkward.

These days it’s rare to see posts by actual people you know - so why bother?

I feel the exact same way. After my last vacation, I actually felt a little awkward posting pictures of it after- for many years FB had served as a great online photo album, but this was around the election, and it was all hatebook type stuff and posts from news outlets and such, it felt out of place to post pictures from my life on there. It was a very strange feeling, and I think a big harbinger of where they have gone wrong as a company. As less people post about whats going on in their lives, I find less value on the site, and the cycle seems self perpetuating at this point. I am not sure how they turn this around... and I say this as someone who was once something of a fanboy and has held their stock since the IPO.

If I was in Zuck's shoes, I would kill all political content on the site... immediately and banish it to never come back. Really all outside content needs to go, I don't want news of any sort from FB aside from the "original content" my friends produce. And if you want, inject a reasonable number of ads in between, and I can deal with that, but their "product" in my eyes is their social feed, and that is a fraction of the size it once was.

Facebook killed the value of their own application for me.

It’s strange that they didn’t spot this happening. They do now, at least!

> Microsoft are showing that it can be done, but I wonder if Facebook has the capacity to do great things. Perhaps the lesson from MS is that only a new leader can rescue such a mired company.

No, the lesson from MS (and IBM, Oracle and SAP) is that once you have a large enough moat of captive users who can't really move away, you can just "go on" and deliver crap to your users as long as the quality of the competition stays below the quality of your crap. And if there is someone coming close, buy them up.

The problem of FB is that there is, at the core, nothing except the "network effect" that creates such a moat. No multi-year contracts with governments or megacorps worth billions of dollars, no source of recurring revenue other than ads, there is nothing that fundamentally ties customers - both "end users" and advertisers - to Facebook.

I don't think this is unreasonable, but I'd also watch out for the "Facebook is dying" narrative that has been popular amongst certain communities for years and years now. Revenue was still up. Profit was still billions and billions. Yes, things are going the wrong way for the first time but it has always felt like people were very fast to jump on the "well this is finally the end" narrative.

I think the correct thing to do would have been to pivot away from user data and ad targeting as business model and start offering premium, paid services. For instance Facebook could have very easily been Slack for businesses, as well as an enterprise internal social network. Another thing would have been to start offering appliances for private hosting of individual Facebook instances. Finally Facebook could have also started competing in cloud and leveraging its massive infrastructure for other companies to use. I might be wrong but it seems like these could have replaced Facebook’s current revenue model with stable, reliable recurring revenue while also resolving its longstanding PR problems.

> For instance Facebook could have very easily been Slack for businesses, as well as an enterprise internal social network

They actually have that already. Now it's called "workplace"[1] but before it was called "facebook for work", think Yammer from MS.

[1]: https://www.workplace.com/

Ah interesting - I vaguely remember hearing about this, but since I hadn't heard about it in so long I assumed it died.

I don't know what the uptake on this product is, but this specific product might be a case of "Solving a problem no business is having." For instance I think it'd be hard to justify purchasing this service for an enterprise without a compelling use-case. But I certainly think that Facebook has the resources make something that solves a problem that people really do have.

On the other hand, Slack seems to solve a problem pretty well that most businesses have.

Finally, I don't think VR as it currently exists solves a problem any business (or person) truly has beyond sheer entertainment. It remains "cool tech" that has yet to find a solid, non-gaming use case for the average person. This may change but this is why I currently think Meta is in trouble and I'm puzzled as to why Zuckerberg would go all-in on VR.

I am an owner of Oculus Quest 2, had some VR hands-on experience before and I think that Quest 2 is a solid product worth every cent (but probably heavily sponsored). It is a best of two worlds: I can use it standalone and I can connect it to my PC and play Steam VR titles.

Meta has interesting products for VR work: virtual desktop, meetings/calls with presentation slides. They are one step from decent AR: their passthrough mode is quite good.

They have enough cash to buy any decent VR product and a team behind it, if they see a potential synergy.

So I think Zuck's bet on VR may in the end play out. A hype around everything "metaverse" is unprecedented right now.

Disclaimer: I have a long stake in $META in my portfolio.

Definitely interested in the virtual desktop thing, but everything else feels pretty meh. I do like a VR game from time to time but I really don't think I want to be doing VR meetings and stuff.

Ironically, Facebook was great back when MySpace and Orkut wasn’t a great experience.

I suspect that’s because it wouldn’t just let anybody in. Looking back, the decision to open Facebook up to everyone was (in my book) a bad one. I’ll use the nightclub analogy — a good social network, like a good nightclub, must have bouncers (of sorts) to ensure a quality experience. I realise the conflict between this and Metcalfe’s “law”.

Also, seriously, why not just charge for Facebook and WhatsApp. WhatsApp usage is at levels now when a lot of people will pay for it — and at one point (pre-Facebook) they weren’t free in first-world markets.

I don't think they would do well if they switched to a pay-only system, but they might offer special features as subscriber-only or put limits on certain things in the free tier. If they offered no or limited ads and a simple chronological feed from friends in their paid tier, they might do well. Sort of the "get everyone in the world addicted to your crappy product and then make them pay to get a reasonable version of it" model.

I remember being disappointed when they dropped the college requirement. But I do think that was the right decision. You'll only ever scale so much by only enrolling .edu users.

The people who invited me into facebook do not have a degree. I have not posted anything in probably 5 years. From the activity feed spam FB sends me it looks like they both post quite a decent amount. I have have not logged in, in probably a year. When I got on there it was sort of fun reconnecting with people I had not seen in years. But after a while I remembered why we had drifted apart...

It's not even just about the lack of innovation, the demographic of facebook has changed and I can't blame people for wanting to leave

It used to be for young uni students and posting photos of your night out, nowadays it's for retirees arguing about politics.

What does the future of Apple and Google look like decades from now? If you believe that AR/VR will eventually be a trillion-dollar market then even a second or third place position for Facebook will bring them billions in revenue, they just need to be in the market when that time comes and they already are with Oculus.

The historical analogy in Microsoft is more correct than one might think. For Microsoft, it was a question of relinquishing control (e.g. going from proprietary to open) that helped them grow so much again. They are in many ways, a wholly different company than 20 years ago.

If Facebook could have embraced the mainstream interest in privacy and converted themselves to become a global digital identity provider, they could have become so much more and be on ethical side of history. Now they are almost pursuing both, while not realizing that they have to let go of one (and incur short-term losses) to pursue other.

> It looks like the timeline for VR won't be short enough to save FB, but even if it were arriving soon enough he must know that FB probably isn't capable of delivering a truly new thing.

I think it is...eventually. But the technology to go from where we're at -- where it's mostly just useful for games -- to a true game-changer in the big picture, it's just not there yet. Gonna be several years at the bare minimum, probably, a lot of problems still need to be solved.

The first VR system I tried was in 1992 (Dactyl Nightmare!). After trying it, I basically came to the same conclusion. Maybe in another 30 years it will finally be compelling.

FB is an ad business. Changing their DNA to something else is very hard to do.

I had hope that Libra (now Diem) would bring them into personal finance. There are hard problems to solve and the industry is ripe for disruption. Every FB user could have a FB wallet. Remittance, Marketplace, loans, etc.. So many things possible across the entire globe. Not just in the West. They could eat PayPal's lunch.

Instead, Zuck turned his focus to the Metaverse. I really don't get it.

> Without a stream of new ideas and products (unlike, say, Apple)

Apple has no new products in a long time, just overpriced toys that are sold due to good marketing. Most of their money comes from market positioning and closed eco system.

Thry were innovative in the past (that first iphone reveal), but for last years they basically are an app store that takes a 30% cut.

Well I am writing this on a new M1 MacBook Pro which is the best laptop computer I have ever owned. And that is because Apple developed their own chips that are an amazing leap forward in power efficiency, so I can have a laptop which I do heavy, CPU intensive work on all day without worrying about the battery.

Moreso that Apple bought exclusivity of TSMC/ASML's process about a year past everyone else. Similar to their microdrive exclusivity they bought for ipod.

Do computer games work on this? (Emulation?)

Does it have MS office with macros, or still only a limited version?

No idea, haven't tried either. In general anything you have to run under Rosetta seems pretty slow.

> he can see VR is a good play

It's a good play only if he finds a way to monetise it on a similar scale he does with the social network. I might have my open-mindedness failing me, but I simply can't see a way how VR can be monetised even close to selling the access to and influence over masses on a global scale.

"Zuckerberg got lucky", that could be said about nearly every start-up. I don't like him (based on his public behavior), but have to admit he was already brilliant before facebook.

You are kind of right about innovation force at facebook. Although, really not sure, why they didn't do more of it. Like getting into cloud similar to google. Especially pytorch kind of feels better then tensorflow. Really strange.

On the other hand google innovated like hell, but in the end it's still google search which makes most of the profits. So maybe there is just not much potential in innovating and holding it's position is more important (which they are doing).

> Zuckerberg got lucky and then executed brilliantly, transitioned from nerd hacker to CEO amazingly well. He deserves a lot of credit for that.

“I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS. People just submitted it. I don't know why.!They ‘trust me’. Dumb fucks.” - Mark Zuckerberg at 19 years old.

No, he always had scummy intentions and does not deserve credit for exploiting people’s trust.

I’ve always thought one possible next step for Facebook would be in the cloud business. Among the big tech companies they are the only ones not reselling their platform expertise but perhaps it’s just not worth it

I think their image as a social media company might have prevented them from doing was Amazon has done.

Brilliant analysis. I would add to the list that a much higher level of scrutiny from M&A regulators is going to be the last nail in the coffin (making new massive acquisition a lot harder).

> What they _should_ have done is debatable, but developing some sense of ethics might have helped.

I don't see how you could do that. Even recognizing a blind spot like that is extremely difficult and then changing that company DNA is near impossible, it might be even harder than pushing for more innovation.

Both are the same problem though: changing culture. That is only possible with a drastic change at the top, which didn't happen.

Zuck would have had to have a personal epiphany for that to happen because he's un-fireable.

> I think they could have focused on building Whatsapp into a payments (etc) app

Yep, I am surprised they didn't do this many years ago. WeChat does this pretty significantly in China.

He did innovate and more importantly, executed well. Facebook groups, marketplace, buying Oculus, all great plays. They have something like 1.9B daily users. At this point there isn't much growth left and user decline is expected. Facebook don't need to be rescued. Still very healthy.

Now regarding VR. I'm really happy he is going all in on it. He might fail but it's a bold move. Too early to tell but I'm not betting against him.

> Since then, Facebook have innovated very little.

Facebook has created Facebook Workplace from scratch which is very successfull, is this not innovating ?

Facebook has resisted the growth of Snapchat, is this not innovating ?

WhatsApp has continued to grow after its acquisition and is very successful today.

Facebook is clearly one of the most innovative company of this size.

Buying companies and being able to make them grow is clear proof that Facebook is innovative. In the real world most acquisitions end up failing

Facebook Workplace "from scratch?" It was basically a fork of Facebook.

If you followed the Winkelvoss trial, it's clear that even Facebook itself was a stolen idea, so Facebook have never innovated anything, ever

If there only was a way to monetize users without getting into ever-shadier ad-tech and dark patterns...

I was really sad the day that WhatsApp stopped charging money.

But a billion people got massively upgraded end to end encrypted communications.

It's not clear what, if any, benefit that has had. But it's going to be something

Zuckerberg was never capable of coming up with products. Facebook is arguably not even his idea. He bought the competition when he couldn't innovate. But the competition got smart and they're not selling anymore. They can smell the blood in the water.

I'm just surprised it's taken this long for it to start affecting hard numbers.

From a technical (software) perspective, what you say aligns as well - I would claim that Facebook has done very little in terms of actual innovation of their core product since their popularity in early 2010s. I want you to think of a snapshot of facebook.com in 2010 where there wasn't much interactivity on the site and everything relied on good 'old hyperlinks and compare it with its present state - where everything is a clusterfuck of react components with unpredictable behaviour.

What I mean by that is - random disappearing newsfeed elements, and random exposé of page admins' personal accounts while commenting on something, bizarre disappearance of comments, loading signs everywhere and for everything and what not.

Sure, one can argue their investment into ReactJS could be considered as innovation. But, look at the business side of things - What value has ReactJS ACTUALLY provided to the site NOW compared to what it was in 2010? Not much. In 2010, Facebook was this minimalist website where you could add people and post stuff on each others' walls and yeah, occasionally message them. Today, it is a beast that is tons of megabytes downloaded to your computer on the first page visit with a "Messenger platform" - which is just rebranded basic messaging functionality and the clusterfuck that is "Facebook business suite" which is an unnecessarily complicated garbage UI for basic page admin functionality and their "Ads Platform" whose feature set various with where and how you use it. Not to forget Facebook's screwing up of m.facebook.com (the mobile site) where it is barely usable now and with half the features not working (eg. links in stories). Oh, and did I mention about Facebook Lite, Facebook App, Pages App, etc etc. and none of them look like a complete, polished product.

Facebook is a classic case of a taking a good product and screwing it up with needless complexity to the point where the core product is unusable. All this Meta push is just a nail in the coffin for users like me who have had enough - whose expectation wasn't much - just to stay in touch with friends and family. Sometimes, innovation could be as simple as maintaining a stable, core value proposition. I am noticing a lot of people around me are switching back (anecdotal observation) to plain old websites and blogs to express their thoughts and I love that.

I for one, can't wait for the downfall of Facebook, so we can go back to less bloated non-react-vue-js powered SPAs and just back to bare hyperlink powered static webpages :)

FB buys TWTR, only short-term distraction tactic I can think of right now. I jest... I dont think that would be a good idea for many reasons. But FB seems it will only innovate through acquisitions - and now would be the time.

>Facebook have innovated very little. Zuckerberg recognised this, and bought Instagram and Whatsapp in lieu of building an innovative company. The latter is clearly really difficult to do.

I can't remember who it was - maybe Stratechery - that theorized that Zuckerberg thanks to his experience running Facebook had a really good intuition for when Social media where going to go far and thus was able to make deals that at first looked wildly overpriced but in the end seemed to be a steal.

Perhaps their problem right now is that there hasn't been a social media with the growth potential that has been worth their acquiring.

At any rate not sure if I would say just because they failed one time (even with scandals of last few years) that they're really in trouble, that strikes me too much like most financial journalism that says oh no company X had a bad quarter that's it they're toast and then it turns out they come back the next quarter. I say that as someone who does not care for Facebook or any of their acquisitions (although lots in my family like Whatsapp)

> I can't remember who it was - maybe Stratechery - that theorized that Zuckerberg thanks to his experience running Facebook had a really good intuition for when Social media where going to go far and thus was able to make deals that at first looked wildly overpriced but in the end seemed to be a steal.

It kind of helps when you use a VPN called Onavo to spy on what apps people are using...

> was able to make deals that at first looked wildly overpriced but in the end seemed to be a steal

I wonder how much survivorship bias there is here. Presumably they've made some truly dreadful acquisitions too?

I think Instagram and WhatsApp were the only very expensive ones. They did buy (and kill) a lot more


EDIT: and Oculus, too

The problem with accumulating ever more money is that it becomes ever harder to invest properly and try and beat the market.

I suppose it's like, they're not going to be able to buy TikTok are they?

I mostly agree, but I'm not convinced they're going to fail at the VR thing. When my mom (she's a grandma) got a headset and loved it. It made me think twice about it being irrelevant.

I think all centralised social networks have a shelf life.

The question has always been if META manages to create/buy the next big centralised social network after facebook. And this has always been a long shot.

A lot of companies acquire to expand. What has Cisco invented since the router in the early 90’s? Their entire product line can be traced to an acquisition.

Not every company needs to be Apple to succeed.

> What they _should_ have done is debatable, but developing some sense of ethics might have helped.

Right? Imagine what could've been if they would acknowledge problems they've caused and co-operate with society to help overcome them. Such a radical idea. Instead, in the hands of capitalism, they were focused on the short-term giant profits that everyone knows won't last forever. It'll be joyful to watch it collapse. I think they were to proud of themselves to admit what they've created - a 21st century phonebook and that's it.

Why didn't Facebook build a phone? We all know that to control eyeballs, you need to control the device.

They did, in GTA V

Let's maintain some perspective here. They went from 1.93 billion DAILY active users, to 1.92 billion.

Brilliant and well put comment, thank you.

Facebook Marketplace is pretty awesome. I see it as a potential Amazon competitor.

Facebook Marketplace rife with stolen goods and scams.

Is it really more than a Craigslist copy? I mean, I guess it succeeds in replacing Craigslist, but there’s no way it’s gunning for Amazon.

I don’t think got lucky and executed brilliantly to hand in hand very often. That’s already a huge win.

You lost me at Zukerburg got lucky. Facebook changed social media forever, they completely innovated this domain.

but TikTok comes and basically wins the war because it is as un-facebook as it can be. It can be enjoyed, or better if you follow nobody.

Whatever FB's innovation is, it doesn't age well, otherwise fades so fast

Bro, you wanna send a bunch of emails to keep up with your friends. Facebook is and was the truly first social media for the masses.

I hate Facebook, but I will buy its stock, and I will make money.

> Bro, you wanna send a bunch of emails to keep up with your friends. Facebook is and was the truly first social media for the masses.

Facebook was not the first. There were already mass-market social networking websites when Facebook emerged, like MySpace and Friendster.

The younger generation has already dropped Facebook, like their predecessors dropped MySpace. And they are still able to communicate with each other without using e-mail.

Thats just the internet in general isn't it? Show me any site or platform that has stayed the same and hasn't innovated in 10 Years?


I don't recall much have changed since ... 2012, except perceived quality of search results

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