Meta and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg are not looking to catch a break now or anytime soon, every day is a shot at being one step closer to its near future ambitions of the metaverse. But while Zuckerburg and his team at Meta are taking every chance at the near future ambition, the big question is the metaverse just another techy innovation that would do us some good, or a virtual world that’s about to distract us from the here and now? But the truth is not everyone can be fascinated or obsessed or interested in the Metaverse as Meta does. This week, Amazon’s head of devices David Limp expresses some of his concerns with a swipe at Zuckerburg’s metaverse fantasy. Limp doesn’t want to live in a virtual world 24/7, or even a few hours a day.
In an interview last month with financial times, Limp shared his view about spending more of his time embracing his vision for ambient computing – the idea that the computer is ubiquitous – as he has been keen to do over the past year. Ambient computing is a broad term that describes an environment of smart devices, data, A.I. decisions, and human activity that enables computer actions alongside everyday life, without the need for direct human commands or intervention. Essentially, computers quietly take care of stuff in the background.
Limp was asked about his thought about the metaverse while speaking at The Wall Street Journal’s Future of Everything Festival. In his response, he said that while he believes there will be “some form of place-shifting” in the future, he’s more focused on devices that “enhance the here and now.” He added that even with devices like the phones and wireless earbuds, it can be challenging been here now, he sets an example of the challenges of communicating with his kids with these devices around, despite their presence in the same house. Limp disclosed that “I want to work on technologies that bring people’s heads up, get them to enjoy the real world, and make the family a more communal experience.”
Limp mentioned that it was impossible to pin down a particular term for the “metaverse.” “if I asked these few hundred people what they thought the metaverse was, we’d get 205 different answers. We don’t have a common definition, it means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.” says Limp. When it comes to Meta, Mark Zuckerberg has tried to give us his own ideology about the “metaverse,” but at this point, he’s pretty long on vision and short on concrete details of this term — although he is of the opinion that AR glasses will play a big role in the metaverse.
Limp is of the opinion that AR glasses are better than VR just because you can at least have a look and feel of the real world. However, for the metaverse, he says, “I wouldn’t like it if it completely embeds everybody and distracts them from the here and now.”
Limp isn’t the only one critiquing Meta’s proposed future of the Metaverse. Recently, Snap’s CEO expressed a similar opinion, how there’s no one definition of “metaverse,” and disclosed that the company’s “big bet is on the real world” a place where people can entirely spend time together. The former head of Nintendo of America Reggie Fils-Aimé made a shocking statement claiming that “Facebook itself is not an innovative company.” Fils-Aimé predicted that as time goes on people wouldn’t want to spend all of their entertainment time in virtual reality. “I look at the vision that’s been articulated to date, and I’m not a believer,” he said.
Of course, just because quite a number of people in the tech space make fun of an idea in no way means that it’s absolutely going to fail — a typical example is the case of Apple after announcing the first iPhone, the CEO of Microsoft Steve Ballmer ridiculed its lack of keyboard and price tag. However, we can see what the iPhone brand represents today and how it continues to disrupt the mobile market year in and year out. There’s a huge difference between saying that a particular product isn’t great for obvious reasons and arguing that it is fundamentally incompatible with the way people want to live their lives based on my opinion. At this point, it’s difficult to tell who will end up being right. Finally, Limp adds “in my heart, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, I want it to be the guy from Amazon.”