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Facebook Abandons a Very Competitive Market

Social-media giant Facebook is looking to the metaverse as a growth driver.
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Facebook plans no big announcement, no alert, no messaging of consequence to users to tell them that their favorite podcasts will no longer be available. 

Now known as Meta Platforms  (FB) , Facebook will end its adventure in the world of podcasts. A few weeks after the social-media giant confirmed to TheStreet that the group was no longer really investing in audio, Facebook will in coming weeks discontinue Soundbites (short stories), podcasts and the audio platform.

Starting this week it will no longer be possible to add podcasts to the service, TheStreet has learned. 

"After a year of learning and iterating on audio-first experiences, we’ve decided to simplify our suite of audio tools on Facebook," a Meta spokesperson told TheStreet in an emailed statement. "We’re integrating Live Audio Rooms into Facebook Live and we will discontinue our other audio products."

The spokesperson added that "we’re constantly evaluating the features we offer so we can focus on the most meaningful experiences.”

Bloomberg was first to report the news about Facebook's decision to shut down audio.

Observers say this is a major blow for Facebook, which hoped to ride the rising wave of podcasting and audio. Last June, the group, founded and led by Mark Zuckerberg, launched Live Audio Rooms, short stories called Soundbites and podcasts.

"Live Audio Rooms on Facebook enable you to discover, listen in on and join live conversations with public figures, experts and others about topics you’re interested in," Fidji Simo, head of Facebook App, said in a blog post. "Public figures can invite friends, followers, verified public figures, or any listeners in the room to be a speaker."

Facebook then unveiled an A list of hosts. Grammy-nominated electronic music artist TokiMonsta was hired to discuss female excellence and overcoming obstacles. The star National Football League quarterback Russell Wilson was brought in to tell listeners how to train your mind like that of an elite athlete.

Everything for the Metaverse

The social entrepreneur Amanda Nguyen was announced as a host for discussions about pursuing justice and making progress in an extraordinarily polarized time, while the streamer, entertainer, and internet personality Omareloff was hired to share the life of a professional esports player.

"No matter what you’re passionate about, there’s a Live Audio Room waiting for you," the company said in June. 

But less than a year later, all these plans are dead.

The company insists that audio tools will continue on Facebook. It said that it would integrate Live Audio Rooms features into the Facebook Live product, so that it could offer a comprehensive live-broadcasting solution. Users will be given the option to go live with audio and video, video-only, or audio-only, Facebook says.

With the drop of audio, Facebook is suggesting that podcasting is a declining medium after it was a trend during the pandemic economy. This trend was symbolized by Clubhouse, a social-networking application launched in April 2020 in San Francisco, 

The audio social network, which enables its users by invitation to chat in private rooms, took advantage of the success of podcasts, apps and messaging services where users exchange only voice and sound messages. The principle was that voice is a vector of emotions, nuances, humanity and empathy. 

The company's valuation quickly crossed $4 billion, which forced tech groups such as Spotify  (SPOT)  and Facebook to copy it.

Audio is a victim of Facebook's ambitions for the metaverse.

The company at the end of October changed its name to Meta Platforms. This change is more than cosmetic because the company now wants to focus on turning the virtual world, in which we will interact via avatars, into an economic opportunity. 

Mark Zuckerberg's group is currently developing virtual-reality headsets and other tech tools and gadgets using augmented reality and artificial intelligence, which we will use in this metaverse.