While acknowledging that 2022 was "harder than we expected" for its metaverse plans, Meta remains committed to the technology, Reality Labs CTO Andrew Bosworth wrote in a blog post. To that end, the company is planning to put 20 percent of its total spending toward Reality Labs in 2023, with half of that going directly toward augmented reality (AR) initiatives — around the same amount as last year.
Meta was criticized this year for putting billions toward metaverse projects and seeing a loss of $9.4 billion from Reality Labs through the first three-quarters of 2022. "Economic challenges across the world, combined with pressures on Meta’s core business, created a perfect storm of skepticism about the investments we’re making," Bosworth acknowledged.
However, reversing course now could produce "disastrous consequences," he added. Noting that daily active Facebook users (DAUs) were at an all-time high, the 20 percent investment in Reality Labs "makes sense for a company committed to staying at the leading edge" of AR tech.
While Reality Labs is losing money, the spending enabled Meta to develop "foundational pieces of technology" for the future, Bosworth said. Specifically, Meta shipped the Quest Pro headset with mixed reality and eye and face tracking that have been adopted by developers, creators and builders. "We’ll be living with the benefits of this work for decades to come."
It looks like Meta and its investors will need to stay patient, though, as the company's vision for immersive AR glasses is years off. "Our vision for true AR glasses will require years of progress making our devices slimmer, lighter, faster, and more powerful, all while consuming way less battery power and generating much less heat," according to Bosworth.
In the shorter term, Reality Labs is working to improve its incredibly basic avatar system, with more news coming in 2023. It's also planning to help Horizon Worlds "flourish," will introduce a Meta Question Gaming Showcase in the spring and reveal the "successor to the Meta Quest 2" sometime next year.
Virtual reality pioneer John Carmack recently left Meta, while criticizing the company's lack of efficiency. Bosworth also acknowledged the likely arrival of Apple's AR headset and HTC's Meta Quest rival likely coming in 2023 Given all that, Meta likely wanted to assure users and investors alike that the company is staying the course on AR, despite the challenges.