November 16, 2021
What’s A Metaverse?
If you haven’t heard about Facebook’s rebrand, you’ve been living under a metaphorical rock. The social media giant has changed its company (not the app) name to Meta. Why? Because Mark Zuckerberg reckons that the future of the internet is the metaverse. So what’s a metaverse and how is Facebook involved?

What’s a Metaverse?

It’s a concept taken straight from the pages of sci-fi novels (in fact one book in particular – Snow Crash – coined metaverse in 1990) and it doesn’t exist yet. The metaverse is hypothesised to be the next version of the internet; a place where 3D, virtual environments exist. You will be able to (theoretically) access the metaverse through your computer, augmented reality and virtual headsets.

The idea will be to expand the metaverse and its functions to education, business and retail. It would mean a new economy among other gargantuan changes to how the world operates.

Zuckerberg uses a couple of examples when explaining the everyday uses it will serve: your avatar appearing in a virtual meeting room to converse with others across the globe, or popping into your friends’ lounge room in Paris for a catch-up. You could attend a concert or a Ted Talk without having to get on a plane or even move from your couch. In other words, it will transform the human experience. It sounds like AR headset experiences on steroids. Meta is currently working on a pair of AR glasses called Nazare, set to launch in a few more years. James Bond who?

Why is the Metaverse rebrand controversial?

Because it doesn’t exist yet. Facebook has reportedly invested $10 billion in the creation of this concept in 2021 alone. Sounds cool, and creepy, in theory – but that’s all it is. A theory. Facebook has made this move in an effort to align their vision with their branding, but many people believe it’s about 10 years too early and serves as nothing other than a point of confusion to most consumers. The metaverse isn’t a household term yet, but is that the point? To get everyone googling and chatting and shaking their heads in disbelief that Zuckerberg actually sees this ‘new internet’ in our near future?

What does make sense is the move to rebrand – (formally) Facebook now owns Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp. A parent company with a separate name is logical.

The other controversy surrounding this story is that it could be seen as a strategic move to distance the company from Facebook’s flurry of negative PR. The noise around how damaging social media apps are for kids and teens is only growing louder, the whistleblowers are growing in numbers and the ‘leaks’ have red flags flying left right and centre. If it is a PR move, we reckon it’s a smart one.

Will the Metaverse be a good thing for business?

There are plenty of examples that come to mind when we consider how the metaverse would impact industries that our clients exist in, retail and education being two of those. Imagine being able to try on a full outfit in virtual reality, from any store in the world. More sales and fewer returns. Or, attending a masterclass by putting your headset on and feeling as though you’re actually present, in the room with your fellow students. Sounds much better than Zoom to us.

The enforced trend of WFH and video calls with interstate or international colleagues will be taken to an entirely new level. Travel will be cut, money saved and jetlag spared (pros and cons here for sure). Could this mean the next iteration of globalism – working for a French company in Melbourne? Studying at an international university without leaving your hometown?

Fun, and scary, to think about.