Even VR for Work Enthusiasts Don't Use VR for Work

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 1 min read

I shared a clip from this week's Sharp Tech (a show I'm enjoying with hosts I like), and Ben Thompson's explanation for why he thinks VR is actually "anti-tech" really blew me away. Read my short thread for more on this specific point.

Ben is probably the most bullish person on Meta's VR ambitions I follow who doesn't work at Meta itself. He's particularly bullish on its use in the workplace, but I'm not convinced yet. Now I have not used this service, mostly because my work has zero interest in it, but I can only look to a few points that indicate to me that it's not the winner right now that Ben and Meta think it is.

  1. Meta is having to create policies that force their teams to use their VR meetings once per week because people were not choosing to use it on their own.
  2. Ben himself has said (on a recent Dithering episode) that while he bought headsets for his team and they were using them for a while, they stopped one week, lost momentum, and haven't gone back to it even though they all have the hardware and a true believer as a boss.

When people bought their first iPhone, very few people went back to Blackberries or flip phones after that. When companies started using Slack or Teams to communicate, they didn't go back to email a few months later (and I bet not many had to create policies to force people to use them). In these cases, the products were good enough to get people using them and not fall back to the old ways. The fact Meta and Ben Thompson, the biggest VR for work supporters I've seen, need a push to use this VR meeting stuff themselves tells me it's just not that compelling in practice.

Time will tell if it's just Meta's version that's not compelling, or if it's fundamentally bad and no one can pull it off.