Is the Metaverse over before it even started?

From the recent cryptocurrency crash to Meta’s poor year; nobody seems to have much faith in Metaverse and Web3 anymore.

Even World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners Lee no longer believes it, calling Web3 a poor imitation of his own ‘Web 3.0’ vision, which offers many of the same privacy promises without the underlying blockchain technology.

Where did it all go wrong?

It starts with the vague definitions. Few people seem to be able to really explain what exactly the Metaverse is. One of the best-informed cheerleaders on the subject is investor Matthew Ball, who wrote a book earlier this year titled “The Metaverse – and the Revolution It Will Cause.” He describes it in there – hold tight – as one “persistent and interconnected network of real-time rendered 3D virtual worlds. Which can be experienced synchronously and simultaneously by an infinite number of unique users. Metaverse gives an individual the feeling of being (physically) present in a virtual environment with continuity of data , identity, history, rights, objects, communications and payments.” Are you getting it yet?

Everyone writes their own story

Zuckerberg, frustrated with his botched crypto experiment ‘Libra’ and whose ad revenue is limited by Apple’s new privacy settings, is all for a Virtual Reality Metaverse. That’s why he’s spending billions developing VR headsets to overcome current hardware limitations. He hopes to make “Quest” the “virtual reality iPhone,” the ultimate device that virtually dominates the category, becoming the new gateway to the Internet as it moves from 2D phones to 3D glasses.

Apple, for its part, will simply build on its already dominant position within augmented reality (AR). So Tim Cook thinks Meta’s investments are bullshit and far too complicated for ordinary consumers. When he thinks of the Metaverse, he mainly thinks of a virtual layer on top of the normal world. Apple’s upcoming headset will undoubtedly make AR a prominent part of the experience. At Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, they mainly see Metaverse as a kind of ultimate MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game), where people eventually meet not only to play games, but also to just hang out, to go to concerts and tinker endlessly (for a fee) with their avatars.

Graphics card maker NVIDIA is putting a lot of time and effort into Omniverse, an open standard for 3D, so that as many experiments as possible can be started with Metaverses that all work seamlessly together. Because to make it run smoothly, you need a lot of new graphics cards. Microsoft’s Satya Nadella also sees the parts of the Metaverse accurately reflected in the services and products the company already provides: from virtual worlds for consumers with Hololens and Xbox, virtual work environments perfectly suited to cloud collaboration with Office to ‘digital twins’ for businesses in the ‘Industrial Metaverse’.

In short, everyone sees the future of their own revenue model in the Metaverse, but the question remains for ordinary people, whether it is even worth paying attention to it.

We’ve been here before

The Daily Mail predicts the end of the Internet in 2000

Cynicism risks you spectacularly missing the boat, like those who doubted its effectiveness in the early days of the Internet. Twenty years ago, when boo.com was the epitome of irresponsible entrepreneurship and beeping and creaking modems served up a hideously slow and simplistic Internet, it didn’t seem so special. The difference between those who dropped out at the turn of the century and those who took the ‘information highway’ to billionaire success was not so much the ability to precisely determine the future, but rather the ability to dare to experiment and have a vision.

Realize your own vision for the new internet

Just as Jeff Bezos realized that the virtual shelf space of the World Wide Web was infinite and thus lends itself to a ‘long tail’ of books, and Mark Zuckerberg made the read/write nature of Web 2.0 so accessible that everyone is a ‘creator ‘ There are new ways to solve old problems using Web3 technology. 3D and immersive web experiences, for example, are a good way to bring products and experiences closer to consumers, even if you don’t call it the ‘Metaverse’ yet. It can also be useful to make premium products highly visible or to let people look around before they have physically been there.

Although Web3 applications are not yet that easy to use for most people, it is already interesting to ask yourself what unique digital objects you could make available to your customers, as the NFL did this year with the virtual answer to trading cards. AR is available on most phones, although it is still primarily used by young people for photo and video filters. There are much broader and more interesting cases to think about, as IKEA has been doing for years with the IKEA Place app, which allows you to virtually place furniture in your living room to see what it’s like there. Nike shows that you can build successful virtual worlds with millions of visitors that are accessible without the need for VR goggles. These kinds of environments can be a wonderful way to build more engagement with your community – purely from an entertainment or product perspective, but also, for example, by building the world as you prefer to see it based on your brand purpose and then starting a conversation about it, what it takes to actually realize it.

For brands, being seen as a forerunner can provide a major competitive advantage. Especially if value is actually created for the end user: from entertainment and PR, to services and community. For those companies that want to be among the winners of the next generation of the Internet, know that a focus on the future, experimentation and a clear vision position them optimally for this. Regardless of what Zuck, Nadella or Cook thinks about it.

code d’azur developed a completely new digital landscape for Polestar. You can see how they did it in this video with Nik Nieuwenhuis, co-founder and CEO at code d’azur.

About the author: David Vogel is Executive Experience Director at code d’azur.

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