Reality Labs, Meta’s division for AR, VR and the metaverse, just had its best quarter yet despite continuing its multibillion-dollar losing streak. Reality Labs generated more than $1 billion in revenue during the final quarter of 2023 thanks to its Quest headsets and the Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses.
While crossing $1 billion in revenue is a new milestone for the company’s metaverse group, it’s still expected to continue racking up massive losses for the foreseeable future. Reality Labs lost $4.6 billion in the quarter, and more than $16 billion in 2023. Meta CFO Susan Li said that these losses are expected to “increase meaningfully year-over-year due to our ongoing product development efforts in augmented reality/virtual reality and our investments to further scale our ecosystem.”
The fourth-quarter, which encompasses the holiday shopping season, has typically been when reality does the best. During a call with analysts, Mark Zuckerberg suggested that the company’s smart glasses had done particularly well, saying that Ray-Ban maker EssilorLuxottica was “planning on making more [smart glasses] than we'd both expected due to high demand.” He added that both Quest 2 and Quest 3 were “performing well,” calling Quest 3 the “most popular mixed reality device.”
Reality Labs aside, Meta had a strong quarter, reporting $40.1 billion to close out 2023, bringing its total revenue for the year to just under $135 billion. Facebook’s user base also grew to 2.1 billion daily active users (DAUs). Meta CFO Susan Li said that the company was “transitioning away” from sharing the metric and would no longer report on Facebook’s daily or monthly active users or its “family monthly active people.”
The company had shared that it would eventually stop reporting user numbers back in 2019 as Facebook’s growth began to slow. But the change shows how Facebook’s position in the company’s “family of apps” has changed in recent years. A report from Pew Research earlier this week found that Instagram is continuing to grow in the US while Facebook use remains flat.
Meta’s newest app, Threads, is still growing, however. Zuckerberg said the service has 130 million monthly users, up from “just under” 100 million last fall. “Threads now has more people actively using it today than it did during its initial launch peak," Zuckerberg said, referring to the app’s initial, but short-lived, surge in growth.
Zuckerberg also talked more about his newly-stated ambition to create artificial general intelligence, or AGI at Meta, saying it would be the “theme” of the company’s product work going forward. “This next generation of services requires building full general intelligence,” he said. “It's clear that we're going to need our models to be able to reason, plan, code, remember and many other cognitive abilities in order to provide the best versions of the services that we envision.”
The Meta CEO also indicated the company would be unlikely to offer any of its apps in alternative app stores in Europe, following Apple's controversial new developer policies. "The way that they've implemented it, I would be very surprised if any developer chose to go into the alternative app stores," he said. "They've made it so onerous, and I think so at odds with the intent of what the EU regulation was, that I think it's just going to be very difficult for anyone, including ourselves, to really seriously entertain."