Meta Stock Soars After Earnings on Zuck Statements and Share Repurchase. “Our management theme for 2023 is ‘the year of efficiency,'” Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on a call after the release of his company’s fourth quarter earnings report last night. . Results were mixed, but the company announced a $40 billion share buyback, which sent the stock price up 20%. This is even after Meta Reality Labs reported revenue of $727 million, down 17% from Q4 2021. The company said it plans to spend around the same amount (~$13 billion dollars) for Metaverse development next year. Meta stock is now trading at its highest price since July.
The United States will drop its suit to prevent the acquisition of Within by Meta. Barring an appeal from the FTC, Meta can finally close its deal to acquire Within, the company behind the hit VR fitness app, Supernatural. As we explained in December, while some regulation of big tech might be needed, it wasn’t the right fight for the FTC to pick.
Meta is shutting down the popular free-to-play multiplayer game Echo Arena. Meta has just laid off 13,000 people and is ready to let go of 1,000 more. Anything not tightly tied to revenue goes overboard, including what is allegedly one of Zuck’s favorite games, Echo, a former Oculus Rift hit that enjoyed even greater popularity on Quest. Maybe that’s what Meta needs to do to get Wall Street to love it again.
Meta Drops Quest Pro Price at $1,100 for a limited time. Having paid $1,500 for this device, you can see why we’re upset. Some say it’s to compete with the new Vive Elite’s $1,100 price tag, but the word on the street is that the Quest Pro isn’t selling out. I exclusively use the Pro now, it is better than the Quest, but the experiences are the same, creating a price/value mismatch, which I now feel even more intensely.
Horizon Worlds is coming to web and mobile. Amidst all the rumors about new private membership rooms in Horizon Worlds, there was the announcement that Meta’s flagship social VR platform will be opening up to web users and other devices. The release of Horizon Worlds outside of Quest would represent a potential massive influx of users and user-generated content. This would likely also make the platform open to all browsers.
Prisms of Reality, a virtual reality math education app for Quest, announced a $12.5 million Series A Directed by Andreessen Horowitz. The emerging learning platform is already present in 100 school districts and in the Meta Quest Store. The funds will accelerate growth, expand programs and reach more schools with more subjects.
Samsung, Google and Qualcomm announce that they will work together on an XR device. The news was shared at Samsung’s Unpacked event in San Francisco on Wednesday. The announcement was characterized by TM Roh, president of Samsung’s mobile division, as “a declarative announcement”. Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon and Google Senior Vice President for Android Hiroshi Lockheimer appeared on stage with Roh. Lots of love, few explanations, no deadlines Roh said the venture will involve partnerships with Meta and Microsoft.
Nreal Air: New Console Support, Mac OS Beta and Hands-On Review. The $379 Assisted Reality Screen Reflector turns your phone into an input device and your (slightly oversized) sunglasses into your screen. The virtual screen appears as a 130-inch high-definition screen a few feet in front of you. Ideal for media consumption and remote work as it connects to any device (Android or iOS) and all game consoles.
Sony cuts its Playstation VR 2 sales projections after weak pre-sales at CES. Bloomberg was the original source for the story which seems so believable on its face that it was picked up by most tech news outlets (not us), but those who wrote about it have heard of the SonyPR team. Sony refutes report that it cut PSVR 2 production forecast
Anything World, an AI-enabled platform lets developers build in 3D today launched its web gallery to showcase AI-built models. Seeing is believing, so I invite you to watch the YouTube demo above. The web-based platform offers voice creation of virtual worlds, filled with 3D assets, and an automatic animation system, which allows rigging and animating any 3D model at any time. Models can be used in any position, angle, and motion in FBX, GLTF, GLB, Collada, and OBJ formats in 3D software, games, movies, simulators, and other content-rich experiences . Anything World provides direct plugins with Unity.
Tom Hanks and Robin Wright Will Be Aged in New Robert Zemeckis Movie Using Metaphysical AI Tool. You know the Tom Cruise deep fake that freaked everyone out last year. The company that made it hit the big time. On Tuesday, artificial intelligence company Metaphysic announced that it has entered into a strategic partnership with CAA to develop generative AI tools and services for talent. The first application will be the aging of Tom Hanks, Robin Wright and others in the next film by Robert Zemeckis herewho follows the stars for many years.
Digs raises $7 million to create digital twin homes. This digital twin of your Digs becomes a platform for the builder, vendors, and suppliers, and is ultimately handed over to the owner. The Digs product is free and open to US builders today. The founder previously created the AR/Computer Vision app which he sold Streem to Front Door 18 months ago.
This week in XR is also a podcast hosted by the author of this column, Ted Schilowitz, head of future technologies at Paramount Global, and Rony Abovitz, founder of Magic Leap. Our guest this week is the legendary Avi Bar-Zeev, technology consultant, inventor, designer, advisor, who recently co-founded and led the non-profit organization XR Guild, previously co-founded Keyhole (Google Earth), co-invented the Hololens, helped design Amazon Echo Frames and undisclosed projects at Apple. We can be found on Spotify, iTunes and YouTube.
What we read
We already live in the metaverse (Megan Garber/Atlantic)
Will the metaverse be entertaining? Ask South Korea. (Jin Yu Young and Matt Stevens/NY Times)
Why The AI Explosion Has Huge Implications For The Metaverse (Andrew Chow/Time)
Apple XR Foam
Apple will put its reputation on the line with a new mixed reality headset Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, one of Apple’s closest watchers, said the headphones represent a significant shift in strategy for Apple. When it entered the previous categories – music players, phones, tablets and watches – there was already great interest in the products. Apple’s goal was simply to create something better and beat the competition. AR/VR headsets, on the other hand, are still a nascent field. Consumers will need some cajoling just to get them to consider such a product.
Apple’s VR vision comes into play (Boone Ashworth/Wired)
Apple’s rumored headset needs more than an Apple Store app in VR to become a hit (Mac 9to5)
Apple could use Siri to create apps for its mixed reality headset (Alex Perry/Mashable)
iOS 17 Rumored to Support Apple’s AR/VR Headset (Zachary McAuliffe/Cnet)
This week at Schadenfreude
The Metaverse Industry Is Already Collapsing (Noor Al-Sibai/Futurism)
Can Snap become an AR company? (Antoinette Siu/Digiday)