Metaverse, a new business on the internet!28 June 2022
The rebranding from Facebook to “Meta” has brought to attention the concept of metaverse and the issue of whether or not a clear and defined economic model exists. The name “metaverse” can have different meanings. The term was coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 science fiction novel “Snow Crash,” where he imagines realistic avatars meeting in realistic 3D buildings and other virtual reality environments.
At the very basic, we speak of metaverse when we use a combination of multiple digital elements, that include virtual reality, augmented reality and video, in which users spend part of their time. Developers of the metaverse imagine that users will work, live, and stay in touch with their friends or colleagues through simulated virtual experiences.
The metaverse is a resourceful world, in which social media, immersive technology, and e-commerce come together. In a virtual world like the metaverse I can meet other users (or avatars), go shopping, create objects or buildings, open businesses, exchange goods or resources and even digital terrain. There are already several key players in the metaverse, including Meta (formerly Facebook), Microsoft, Apple, Epic Games, and Roblox, as well as companies that were early visionaries of the metaverse in the past and that now are re-evaluated, though with a lower profile, like Second Life.
Over the next few years, the metaverse will become increasingly part of everyday life. Businesses, entrepreneurs, and many others will try to take advantage of the next big tech wave in which, instead of spending time in a browser or domain, users will be completely immersed in a virtual world. As spaces develop, cryptocurrency will help fuel the development of the new era. Whether it’s buying digital land or buying something as simple as an avatar skin, cryptocurrencies will undoubtedly be a primary tool for exchanging goods and services in the metaverse.
Mark Zuckerberg saw the opportunities and created a new division: Meta Reality Labs through which, he explains, Meta is developing Horizon Worlds, a “virtual environment” in which users can enter a 3D world, instead of simply observing a flat screen. People can meet, work, have fun using virtual reality viewers, augmented reality glasses, apps or other devices. Zuckerberg also explains how business can be carried out in the metaverse using its technology. And he explains it through two examples.
The first refers to the commercial sphere: with the advent of digital commerce, the metaverse will unlock new opportunities for buyers and sellers to connect in a new way. You might imagine your Instagram store, for example, becoming more immersive, with the ability to buy physical products in 3D virtual malls.
The second example concerns the sphere of entertainment. Today Meta sells spaces on its metaverse or rents them as it is done with venues like a theater or stadium.
It offers hybrid virtual realities where people can participate in person or buy a ticket for the virtual experience. During a simulation, Zuckerberg showed how it is possible, for example, for two friends enjoying the same concert, one in person and the other joining virtually through the metaverse.
For Zuckerberg, the new Virtual Reality Labs project, the Meta Reality Labs is a door to the evolution of the Internet, though it might take a decade before we can see the full version of it. Some important signals, however, are already available. One above all: Nike has registered some of its trademarks to be used in the metaverse. On October 27, the multinational company filed the patent of its brand icons: the name, the payoff “Just do It” and the Swoosh, the Nike logo. Finally, it also filed the Air Jordan trademark and the iconic Jumpman logo with Michael Jordan dunking the basketball hoop. The company’s CEO John Donahoe explains that the company intends to sell clothes, shoes and accessories in these virtual worlds, and buyers could meet the avatars of their sports idols.
The metaverse, therefore, has yet to focus on a business model but is already inviting the first multinationals to invest in this regard. No one can imagine how the Internet will be like in 5 years, let alone in ten. What is certain is that the devices will be transformed, we will probably wear glasses with immersive virtual reality, we will relate with other people while immersed in a simulated world and we will participate at events, fairs, conferences and concerts directly within these worlds. What we think e-commerce is today is likely to transform and businesses will have to adapt to these changes, as they did about 10 years ago when they embrace new promotional strategies with the advent of social media.
Oscar Giacomin / General Manager, Facto Edizioni
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