The metaverse won Christmas this year.
Meta, Facebook’s parent company, had the most popular app in Apple’s App Store on Christmas Day: the Oculus virtual reality app. That’s the app people download to manage the Oculus VR headset, and its top ranking is an indicator Meta’s VR headset was one of the most popular technology gifts over the holidays.
App Store rankings aren’t perfect, but they offer a good snapshot of how popular a given app is at a moment in time. It’s also a good peek into technology trends every Christmas as folks activate all their new gadgets.
In Meta’s case, this is the first time its Oculus app has topped the App Store on Christmas. CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced this year that the company will invest at least $10 billion to build the metaverse, a virtual world he believes will become the standard for social networking, gaming and even work in the future. Zuckerberg believes in the metaverse concept so much that he changed Facebook’s name to Meta this fall.
This photo from Oculus shows what it might be like to play it in an apartment.
Zuckerberg’s pivot to the metaverse was just one of the major events that showed the growing excitement around the metaverse this year. Gaming company Roblox, which made its bet on the metaverse years before we even heard the word cross Zuckerberg’s lips, went public in March at a nearly $40 billion valuation. That’s pushed investors to hunt for the next big metaverse stock, with names like Nvidia and AMD dominating the conversation. Both companies sell chips that will power it.
Today’s VR headsets from Meta are nowhere near as powerful or capable enough to enable Zuckerberg’s ultimate vision for the metaverse. But they can give you a taste of what’s possible. On top of that, Meta now has a lot more customers, giving it a chance to gather more data about how normal folks use virtual reality and tailor experiences to those tastes. If Zuckerberg’s thesis about the metaverse is correct, then this year’s new crop of VR users will help inform Meta, and other companies working on similar technologies, to decide on what kind of experiences to make next.
Still, although Meta doesn’t disclose how many VR headsets it sells, the technology hasn’t hit the adoption inflection point where it can gather the kind of attention from customers and software developers the way smartphones and computers have.
The party won’t necessarily last just because Meta had a great Christmas this year. To put it in perspective, we’ve seen companies like Amazon, Google and Fitbit “win” Christmas in past years thanks to sales of their gadgets. So far, none of those products proved to be the game changer Meta hopes VR will become.
For now, though, Meta’s holiday success is a strong indicator the company is on the right path in its quest to build the metaverse.