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What is metaverse and why you should care

Metaverse is on everyone’s mind and lips lately. Non-stop discussions online and in business publications debate whether it’s a fad or a revolutionary invention. So, we thought today we’d look into the phenomena of the metaverse and try to understand why it’s making so much noise. 

What is metaverse? 

According to Meta, the metaverse is the successor to the mobile internet and the next evolution of social connections.

Essentially, the metaverse will be an internet within the internet, where people will be working, shopping, learning, going to virtual concerts, and spending most of their time. Metaverse consists of multiple digital spaces where an individual and their friends, colleagues, and family can move about freely with the goal of staying close to one another, even if everyone is in different physical locations. 

Metaverse is not associated with a specific technology, and it can include both virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). Also, the metaverse as a concept is not owned by Meta. Partially because it’s very hard to define and trademark, but also because it requires many technologies and devices collaborating to make it work.

It is also important to point out that the metaverse by Meta company is only one of several metaverses on the market today. Don’t let Meta's name trick you into thinking they are the sole proprietors and creators of metaverses. 

Metaverse trends

Metaverse represents many things at the same time, which naturally entails there will be multiple trends associated with it circulating around.

In terms of technology, the metaverse relies heavily on:

  • Virtual Reality (VR)
  • Augmented Reality (AR)
  • Internet of things (IoT)
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) 
  • Machine Learning (ML)

Because the metaverse is so all-encompassing, any and every technology can be used to bring the vision to life. However, what we notice at Emphasoft, as we work on metaverse projects for our clients, is that the list above appears to be the top priority for anyone stepping into the metaverse world. 

Not only games 

For a while, the metaverse was largely associated with gaming and entertainment, but these days are long gone. Nowadays, businesses and organisations see metaverses as a potential spot to work, study, make deals, advertise, and network.

Crypto and NFT boom 

Metaverse promotes and supports the use of NFTs and cryptocurrencies by its nature. Digital money and art fit right into the digital universe, and despite the crypto winter, there are many startups and established businesses continuing to roll out NFT and crypto projects in the metaverse. 

Large-scale investing 

Metaverse projects continue to receive large financial support with big investments being made all the time even in the face of recent economic turmoils. Microsoft acquired Activision Blizzard, the publisher and game developer, for around 70 billion USD, securing itself a spot in the metaverse. Meta, besides renaming the company, has made a 10 billion USD investment into hardware and software acquisitions to support VR technology in their metaverse. 

Why are businesses so drawn to the metaverse?  

However unclear the future of the metaverse may be, it seems to have trust of business and investors, or at least they see its long-term potential as a can't miss opportunity.

Humanity was always fascinated by futuristic concepts of what our lives could one day look like. And while it’s usually hard to predict how things will turn out once new trends are introduced, it is proven by history that missing out on the early days of new technology and trends leads to huge opportunity costs and can potentially ruin a business.

This same scenario is playing out with metaverse, and many senior managers believe the cost of entry right now is lower than the cost of playing catch-up later. 

Companies in metaverse: examples 

Because the metaverse is so broadly defined and there are no strict rules regarding what’s allowed, a company’s integration into the metaverse is limited by their imagination and skills.

Below are some examples of how companies are making themselves seen in the metaverse:

  • Coca-cola launched an exclusive flavour designed specifically for the metaverse. It is called the Coca-cola Zero Sugar Byte and, according to their press release, it brings the taste of pixels into real life. The limited edition was sold in select countries for a limited amount of time. Lucky customers could scan the packaging and access the AR game where they could play and learn more about the exclusive flavour. Game results could be shared on social media, helping the company create even more noise about the new drink.
  • Chipotle, a popular Mexican fast-food chain in the US, has taken a different approach to the metaverse. Instead of creating an exclusive product, they’ve introduced a game (or simulation experience as they call it) where users can roll virtual burritos, earn Burrito Bucks, and exchange them for a discount in the real-life Chipotle restaurant.
  • J.P.Morgan is the first bank to expand into Metaverse by creating a digital branch welcoming clients. The Wall Street giant has also issued a report where it talks about the potential of the metaverse and analyses the risks and losses associated with missing out on the trend.

The criticism of metaverse

At the moment, the metaverse is far from its proclaimed vision and it’s hard to define what it actually is or what it means for commerce or for people’s personal lives. Due to the uncertainty, the metaverse faces a lot of criticism.

As Wired put it, if you replace the term “metaverse” with “cyberspace”, the meaning won’t change most of the time. A lot of the critics point out that the metaverse doesn’t represent anything revolutionary, such as new technology. Instead, it appears to mean a virtual reality hub for individuals and companies.

It’s too soon to tell what metaverse will turn out to be, but it most definitely has the potential to revolutionise the internet, if it delivers on its promise. 

Should you take part in the metaverse trend?

Metaverse sounds exciting and futuristic but also complex and ambiguous, raising concerns about whether it is worth it for businesses to follow the trend and invest in metaverse-related projects.

Gartner seems to believe it’s worth it as it expects 25% of people to spend a minimum of one hour a day in metaverse by 2026 doing work, shopping, or chatting away with friends. But you shouldn’t rely on experts’ opinions alone when making a decision to participate in the world of the metaverse.

Joining metaverse should make sense to your business in the long-term, so before hopping on this train, ask yourself: 

  1. Would you be able to attract new clients?
  2. Would it strengthen your brand?

At this point in time, it’s hard to tell what the metaverse will turn into. Early adopters might secure a strong competitive advantage by rolling out projects there now. Plus, with the level of hype that currently surrounds the metaverse, it is a great opportunity to promote yourself because everything that happens in the metaverse gets a lot of publicity.

What stops many companies from joining metaverse today is a lack of time or skills to deliver a custom project for the environment. A good solution, in that case, would be to delegate the project to an outsourcing company, such as Emphasoft, and get the best of two worlds. Internal teams will continue to focus on key business targets, while the outsourced team will be delivering a custom solution that will secure the business’s presence in the metaverse.

Whether you choose to dive deep into the metaverse with your own product or not, it’s worth keeping an eye on the phenomena, as it is likely to influence how companies will work and interact with clients moving forward.

Illustrations by:
official Meta's Instagram account

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