Ongolo Proud African

Ignore the metaverse at your own peril

5 January 2022

The virtual reality technology known as the metaverse is the subject of much debate, despite being in the very early stages of implementation. It is impossible to predict how it will evolve, but what is clear is that if you're not investing in it today there are very real risks involved. After all, Facebook's $2 billion spend on Oculus Rift back in 2014 shows just how seriously tech giants have been thinking about this emerging market for many years.

What is the metaverse? The term is a combination of the words ‘meta’ meaning beyond and ‘universe’ which means a sphere of activity. According to William G. Burns III, who calls himself the definer of the modern metaverse, the term refers to a network of 3D virtual worlds focused on social connection, which will be facilitated using virtual and augmented reality. Simply put - this means an interconnected digital world where people can meet up, communicate, and play together - in any type of environment imaginable, free from the constraints of reality. It is a world where you can be anyone you want to be and do anything you want to do.

The metaverse could become one of the most powerful business concepts invented since the internet came into existence.  It will revolutionise how we interact with technology and with each other in the future. Just think about it - with metaversal social media, you can virtually meet people from across the world with different beliefs and different cultures and can attend political rallies without being afraid of being arrested.  There will be no difference between metaversal social media and reality since avatars will be indistinguishable from humans!

That may all sound a bit far-fetched, but it might not be as far away from reality as you think! Facebook has nearly 2 billion active users every month, the majority of whom use the site daily – it makes sense that Facebook would lead the charge. Mark Zuckerburg predicted in his keynote speech at F8 2014 (Facebook Developer Conference) that the future of social media would be dominated by virtual reality. In 2021, Zuckerberg made true on this promise on 28 October 2021 when Facebook was rebranded as Meta to focus on bringing the metaverse to life.

There are many companies who predict that metaverses will become more popular than the current movie industry, which has interesting consequences for other businesses such as tourism, real estate, retail, and education (just to name a few). A metaverse also opens a whole new market for in-world transactions in a similar way that apps like Uber allow people in different cities to provide services to each other at cheaper rates. For example, investors are buying real estate in the digital world by going to platforms such as Decentraland, Axie Infinity or Sandbox and purchasing property using crypto wallets such as Metamask.

Companies such as CEEK and RFOX claim to have built metaverse ecosystems that will encompass retail, entertainment, media, and gaming. However, just yesterday, H&M (Hennes & Mauritz), which is one of the largest clothing brands in the world with nearly 5,000 stores, strongly denied media reports on Sunday 2 January 2022 that it had opened the first ever metaverse store in the Ceek metaverse. CEEK claimed that it was collaborating with H&M to create a virtual store where avatars could browse and purchase merchandise using Ceek coins. H&M debunked the claims. That’s not to say that other retailers are not itching to opens stores in the metaverse as this would be seen as enhancing the current online shopping experience. Stay tuned!

The only challenge with the metaverse concept is that it is highly fragmented which is what makes Meta the most likely to succeed as it already has 36% of the world’s population on its platform. So, start designing your avatar because you’ll be needing it soon!



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