Meta's VR ambitions Doomed as Carmack exits

Posted:
in General Discussion
Famed developer John Carmack is leaving Meta, with inefficiencies in VR development at the tech giant potentially giving hope for Apple's VR efforts to take the lead.

Oculus Quest 2 [Meta]
Oculus Quest 2 [Meta]


"This is the end of my decade in VR," Carmack's internal post to employees in Meta starts, before he admits to having "mixed feelings." The post, publicly released following an initial leak, a way for Carmack to say goodbye to others in the company, goes on to criticize significant issues for Meta's development of VR headsets, as well as its metaverse ambitions.

After the leak, Carmack confirmed he has resigned from his position as an executive consultant for VR with Meta.

On the Quest 2, Meta's current VR headset available to the public, Carmack is positive, declaring it "almost exactly what I wanted to see from the beginning." This consisted of mobile hardware combined with inside out tracking, a "4K(ish) screen" and cost effectiveness.

While it could've been constructed faster, Carmack calls it a successful product, and "pretty close to The Right Thing."

In October, Meta announced the Quest Pro, a VR headset that would cost consumers $1,499, far more than the Quest 2's $399 price tag. The Quest Pro is a thinner headset with improved full-color pass-through, thinner lenses, eye-tracking systems, and a more powerful processor, among other changes.

Inefficiencies are a problem

However Carmack offers that not all is well with Meta's development in the VR field. "The issue is our efficiency," he flatly admits.

He points to an organization "that has only known inefficiency," and that is "ill-prepared for the inevitable competition and/or belt tightening." In clarification to his original point, Carmack says he cares "deeply about efficiency," and seeing something "grossly inefficient hurts your soul," something that is evidently an issue for Meta.

While having a "ridiculous amount of people and resources" at hand, "we constantly self-sabotage and squander effort," he writes. He then offers that the organization is "operating at half the effectiveness that would make me happy."

The inefficiency has been "a struggle" for the software engineer, who believes that he was "evidently not persuasive enough" to convince high-level executives to make changes from his complaints. While a small number of his complained-about issues do eventually get fixed, he adds "I have never been able to kill stupid things before they cause damage."

Carmack offers that the situation could've been better if he had moved to Menlo Park after the Oculus acquisition, but he instead kept programming.

In signing off, he tells Meta staff "the fight is still winnable," and that while it's possible to continue "plowing ahead with current practices," there's a lot of ceiling for improvement.

"Make better decisions and fill your products with Give a Damn'!" ends the memo.

After leaving Meta, it is likely that Carmack will increase his time spent at his startup Keen Technologies.

In the lead, for the moment

While Meta has a considerable lead in the VR market due to actually shipping products, it may not be the only juggernaut at the top for long. Apple's own VR headset and AR devices have long been in development, and its first product could eventually arrive in late 2023.

Current rumors about Apple's headset include the use of two 4K OLED displays, 15 camera modules, and a chip closer to the M1 in terms of performance than the A-series variants. The initial headset is expected to cost around $3,000.

With the departure of a major voice and body of knowledge in VR and AR technology exiting Meta, along with an apparently inefficient development process, it may not take that much for Apple to take away Meta's significant head start.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    JP234JP234 Posts: 827member
    There's a whiff of desperation in this article. Sounds like Facebook/Meta has put all their eggs in the VR basket, due to declining ad revenues, caused by large abandonment of its user base. Personally, both my wife and I have stopped the daily self-affirmation of tracking "likes" of our posts. And I deactivated my account months ago, realizing that no one really gives a crap what I think, and I really don't give a crap what they think. I don't want to live in an echo chamber of confirmation bias anymore, either.

    Apple may eventually be successful with their foray into AR/VR, but it won't be due to some $3,000 pair of blinders like the renderings I'm seeing.
    baconstangjeffharriswatto_cobraAniMillblurpbleepbloop
  • Reply 2 of 18
    tmaytmay Posts: 5,825member
    JP234 said:
    There's a whiff of desperation in this article. Sounds like Facebook/Meta has put all their eggs in the VR basket, due to declining ad revenues, caused by large abandonment of its user base. Personally, both my wife and I have stopped the daily self-affirmation of tracking "likes" of our posts. And I deactivated my account months ago, realizing that no one really gives a crap what I think, and I really don't give a crap what they think. I don't want to live in an echo chamber of confirmation bias anymore, either.

    Apple may eventually be successful with their foray into AR/VR, but it won't be due to some $3,000 pair of blinders like the renderings I'm seeing.
    Apple would by all appearances have an integration advantage for AR/VR devices, among other things, though kudos to Meta for coining the term, and and raising its flag, in the Metaverse. /s

    If only Twitter and Meta could collide together, releasing a massive amount of karmic energy, and then disappear.

    badmonkneo-techbaconstangjeffharriswatto_cobraravnorodom
  • Reply 3 of 18
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 3,065member
    The Oculus 2 experience is decidedly sub "4k-ish." The hardware specifications are misleading.
    watto_cobraravnorodom
  • Reply 4 of 18
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 1,139member
    It is interesting that Apple is seen as the primary threat even though there are only rumors of an Apple product. This shows the power of Apple as a threat to the order of things to its competitors (irrespective of the younger naysayers who post on this site) 

    I have found the rumors of Apple broadcasting or even owning sports teams interesting.  Besides gaming, porn & technical training as the obvious uses of VR, sports fans never surprise me in their ability to shame themselves in their fandom to wear nonsense in support of their teams.

    I am thinking about cheeseheads here.  Once you reach this point of degradation, strapping on a VR headset is a small step to watch recaps of plays, player level views of the action, cheerleaders etc etc is a small step on the slippery slope.
    DAalsethwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 18
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 3,065member
    Apparently a non-obvious use of VR is work. I am very excited about the possibility of having a quality portable multi-monitor work environment. (The Oculus 2 isn't it.)
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 18
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,588member
    cpsro said:
    Apparently a non-obvious use of VR is work. I am very excited about the possibility of having a quality portable multi-monitor work environment. (The Oculus 2 isn't it.)
    An interesting thought. Ever see an old TV show with a computer with a massive CRT monitor on it? Maybe in twenty years the idea of a computer with big LCD displays will be as archaic looking. Everyone will be able to just put on a headset and see virtual giant screens. 
    neo-techwatto_cobraFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 7 of 18
    thttht Posts: 4,730member
    cpsro said:
    Apparently a non-obvious use of VR is work. I am very excited about the possibility of having a quality portable multi-monitor work environment. (The Oculus 2 isn't it.)
    I think the clunkiness of current headsets is a big impediment, even for virtual display workflows. As long as it is as large as Quest 2 or Quest Pro headsets, adoption will be low as not that many people want to put something like that on for very long. So, something no more clunky than eyeglasses would be a product ideal. I'm fairly certain that I will start sweating after 10 minutes with anything goggle like, and that's with it turned off.

    The other thing that is a big impediment is they make a rather large portion of potential buyers nauseous. That's worse than a showstopper. People have been saying they have been nicking at this, so perhaps this won't be a problem soon enough.

    One of the big strategic decisions they needed to make was whether the computing parts would be in the goggles or in an iPhone or Mac. They went with it being builtin. The only way having computing hardware in the goggles is a good idea is because there would be too much latency if it is outside the eye set, thus making the product fail. But that meant big, heavy and sweaty goggles. They probably kept on hitting this gate for the last 5 years, and this xrOS hardware in 2023 is going to be their most viable minimum product ever. It's going to be clunky.
    watto_cobratmay
  • Reply 8 of 18
    JP234JP234 Posts: 827member
    tmay said:
    JP234 said:
    There's a whiff of desperation in this article. Sounds like Facebook/Meta has put all their eggs in the VR basket, due to declining ad revenues, caused by large abandonment of its user base. Personally, both my wife and I have stopped the daily self-affirmation of tracking "likes" of our posts. And I deactivated my account months ago, realizing that no one really gives a crap what I think, and I really don't give a crap what they think. I don't want to live in an echo chamber of confirmation bias anymore, either.

    Apple may eventually be successful with their foray into AR/VR, but it won't be due to some $3,000 pair of blinders like the renderings I'm seeing.
    Apple would by all appearances have an integration advantage for AR/VR devices, among other things, though kudos to Meta for coining the term, and and raising its flag, in the Metaverse. /s

    If only Twitter and Meta could collide together, releasing a massive amount of karmic energy, and then disappear.

    I'm with you, man! And maybe for Christmas, Elon could hop aboard a SpaceX rocket and set the controls for the heart of the sun. I'm sure he thinks he's brighter!
    DAalsethlkruppjeffharriswatto_cobratmayrotateleftbyte
  • Reply 9 of 18
    The problem is clear in my mind.  Zuckerberg has been given TONS of excess backing since (and thru) his IPO of FaceBook, in promise of providing stock holders with ROI.  But as he had to pay salaries and practically have little or dwindling profits, he had failed to come up with a "hit" over and over but he tried, he did grab IG, WhatsApp, and Oculus.

    But as the money disappeared and he was supposed to be the poster child of "coming up with something 'exciting and new'" he panicked and said, "Let's go big or not at all..."  So he went with Oculus and some "Big Names in AR/VR" and started from scratch essentially committing seppuka (slow Samurai suicide) with the need for someone to chop their head off "honorably" and make things end quicker and less painful...
    watto_cobratmay
  • Reply 10 of 18
    There's a whiff of desperation in this article. Sounds like Facebook/Meta has put all their eggs in the VR basket, due to declining ad revenues, caused by large abandonment of its user base. Personally, both my wife and I have stopped the daily self-affirmation of tracking "likes" of our posts. And I deactivated my account months ago, realizing that no one really gives a crap what I think, and I really don't give a crap what they think. I don't want to live in an echo chamber of confirmation bias anymore, either.Apple may eventually be successful with their foray into AR/VR, but it won't be due to some $3,000 pair of blinders like the renderings I'm seeing.
    Apple would by all appearances have an integration advantage for AR/VR devices, among other things, though kudos to Meta for coining the term, and and raising its flag, in the Metaverse. If only Twitter and Meta could collide together, releasing a massive amount of karmic energy, and then disappear. And take Tik Tok with them...
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 18
    jdwjdw Posts: 1,168member
    I'm very surprised AppleInsider didn't mention in the article the reason why they used the trigger word "Doomed" in the title!  Carmack co-created the game Doom (and Quake).  However, if it was Doomed in that way, it would mean Carmack is staying at Meta, but if we reword the title to say unDoomed, it is strange and loses meaning too.  Anyway, Carmack's game is why that keyword was used in the title.

    With that said, I think one-of-a-kind supermen like Steve Jobs are not a common thing.  To suggest Meta is "doomed" because of the loss of this one man is to suggest no one else could replace him.  In the current working environment at Meta, an amazing replacement person in the VR space probably wouldn't help.  They first need to get Zuckerberg and upper management to understand the reason why Carmack left, then address that so they can get their project back on track.

    Zuckerberg needs to shake-up Meta akin to what Musk has done to Twitter, getting rid of the cruft in order to be laser focused on certain key objectives.  There's no telling whether Musk will ultimately succeed, but at least he's willing to brave horrific daily criticism in order to try new things.  Maybe the departure of Carmack will shake Zuckerberg enough to do a rethink.  And it's not that I am a huge FaceBook/Meta fan either.  I just feel we need intelligent competition in the VR space.  Heavy and expensive googles are not something I'd buy, but I realize that is a stepping stone to "lighter and cheaper" versions appearing in the future, assuming companies like Meta and Apple don't abandon these products entirely before they finally release the insanely great version that most people will eventually want.
    kestralwatto_cobrarezwits
  • Reply 12 of 18
    badmonk said:
    It is interesting that Apple is seen as the primary threat even though there are only rumors of an Apple product. This shows the power of Apple as a threat to the order of things to its competitors (irrespective of the younger naysayers who post on this site) 

    I have found the rumors of Apple broadcasting or even owning sports teams interesting.  Besides gaming, porn & technical training as the obvious uses of VR, sports fans never surprise me in their ability to shame themselves in their fandom to wear nonsense in support of their teams.

    I am thinking about cheeseheads here.  Once you reach this point of degradation, strapping on a VR headset is a small step to watch recaps of plays, player level views of the action, cheerleaders etc etc is a small step on the slippery slope.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxws2Wb4LJ8
    bageljoey
  • Reply 13 of 18
    JP234 said:
    I'm with you, man! And maybe for Christmas, Elon could hop aboard a SpaceX rocket and set the controls for the heart of the sun. I'm sure he thinks he's brighter!
    Have a like for mentioning the title of an old Pink Floyd song, 'Set the control for the heart of the Sun'. 
    JP234
  • Reply 14 of 18
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 2,923member
    Though I haven't seen it in this discussion yet, I often see folks asserting that VR is a useless gimmick, outside of some very niche uses. 

    For many years, people said the same thing about 'Tablet PCs' (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Tablet_PC

    Then along came the iPad, and suddenly the idea of a tablet computer made perfect sense. 

    I look forward to seeing what Apple does in this space. 
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 15 of 18
    JP234JP234 Posts: 827member
    tht said:
    cpsro said:
    Apparently a non-obvious use of VR is work. I am very excited about the possibility of having a quality portable multi-monitor work environment. (The Oculus 2 isn't it.)
    I think the clunkiness of current headsets is a big impediment, even for virtual display workflows. As long as it is as large as Quest 2 or Quest Pro headsets, adoption will be low as not that many people want to put something like that on for very long. So, something no more clunky than eyeglasses would be a product ideal. I'm fairly certain that I will start sweating after 10 minutes with anything goggle like, and that's with it turned off.

    The other thing that is a big impediment is they make a rather large portion of potential buyers nauseous. That's worse than a showstopper. People have been saying they have been nicking at this, so perhaps this won't be a problem soon enough.

    One of the big strategic decisions they needed to make was whether the computing parts would be in the goggles or in an iPhone or Mac. They went with it being builtin. The only way having computing hardware in the goggles is a good idea is because there would be too much latency if it is outside the eye set, thus making the product fail. But that meant big, heavy and sweaty goggles. They probably kept on hitting this gate for the last 5 years, and this xrOS hardware in 2023 is going to be their most viable minimum product ever. It's going to be clunky.
    Well thought out points, but you missed a significant customer objection: some of us don't trust giving game makers and advertisers direct access to our retinas. Or temporal lobes.
  • Reply 16 of 18
    JP234JP234 Posts: 827member
    JP234 said:
    I'm with you, man! And maybe for Christmas, Elon could hop aboard a SpaceX rocket and set the controls for the heart of the sun. I'm sure he thinks he's brighter!
    Have a like for mentioning the title of an old Pink Floyd song, 'Set the control for the heart of the Sun'. 
    And one to you for the OG Machine Language handle.
  • Reply 17 of 18
    So many have missed John Carmack's point about the "rule of 250" - in which a viable headset to reach market potential needs to cost within $250 while as a wearable device, weigh less than 250 grams. Now, this article partially gets it right about META, but come now, Apple's presumed headset is estimated to be easily double the price of the Oculus Pro. Who's buying that other than a niche few or corporate sponsors? I'd question at this point how bad things are going whether we'll even see an Apple headset on market until 2025 - not cause it wouldn't have buyers; but because it just wouldn't have enough buyers to make it more than another Google Glass. 

    What's being failed to truly be grasped right now is that the metaverse and many of its associated gaming are dependent on the crypto coins and tokens associated with them. As this market collapses, we also saw a rise in defaults on car and other minor loans that are beginning to pass 2019, meaning everyday people no longer have expendable income. The market is screwed, probably on par with the game industry collapse of 1983. Meta probably won't last long into 2023, as $11 billion in potential EU fines and the legal costs fighting it will wipe out any gains from layoffs. As Q1 of 2023 ends, it'll probably just be down hill from there, as housing slumps and defaults possibly sink a few borrowers. It's gonna get rough. 

    Personally, I saw this coming roughly about a year ago when I jumped ship from the AR/VR industry. The reality isn't that they weren't building something incredible; they were doing just that, and burning through pallet loads of cash trying to create that industry. Yet as crypto began to collapse, they failed to realize that scaling back needed to be drastically done earlier. They needed something more simple, but what they were striving to do was nothing less than excellence. They played a game of racing against a sinking economy; and they lost. 
    edited December 2022
  • Reply 18 of 18
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-01-18/apple-postpones-ar-glasses-plans-cheaper-mixed-reality-headset


    Called it. Everything is going accordingly; layoffs won't make up for these loses. The real question is what piece falls first? Let's look at some viable options;

    1) WeWork is done for, they can't avoid bankruptcy, which hurts bigger tech by showing the fight to bring workers back to the office isn't working. 
    2) Snap is reporting major loses even after restructuring. If there are no headsets adding users to metas "metaverse", if snap goes, meta will follow soon after

    If Google gets cold feet from WeWork collapsing, it could result in withdrawal from major projects like the Google village - an expensive office is pointless when workers just work remotely from home. So once Google Village collapses, then home prices in the San Jose area will start to collapse. This will create a negative feedback, in which with few banks to loan money but insolvent ones, people will be forced to sell at a lose and move. This snowballs into META as property values collapse and thus they have less collateral to sell when loses mount.

    It'll be game over, and seemingly no one sees this coming. 
Sign In or Register to comment.