The metaverse hints at what the internet will become next. Before you write it off a passing craze among the kids these days, remember when you first heard about this thing called the “internet”? Right.
The term “metaverse” was allegedly coined by the writer Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel “Snow Crash,” and was reimaged by Ernest Cline in his novel “Ready Player One.” The term refers to an immersive digital world that operates in parallel with the analog world.
Enthusiasts portray the metaverse as a new frontier. A place where social norms can be rethought and people can escape traditional economic patterns. Others perceive metaverses as refuges from a fallen society. Yet others perceive the metaverse as a well-spring of new business opportunities.
Founders, investors, executives and futurists have explored how the metaverse can lead to new connections, fresh forms of entertainment, and stronger profits. Here’s how a handful of established brands have pursued innovative means of entering the space:
- Nike. The American multinational footwear company moved into the metaverse last year. After the acquisition of RTFKT studios, which it terms “a leading brand that leverages cutting edge innovation to deliver next generation collectibles that merge culture and gaming,” and a partnership with a teenage influencer, the company sold 600 pairs of virtual sneakers in a mere six minutes. This brought in over $3.1 million in profits.
- Sotheby’s. The renowned fine arts auction house Sotheby’s recently launched its own metaverse environment in the digital platform known as Decentraland. The space looks like a clone of Sotheby’s in London. In this Sotheby’s, users can curate and sell digital artwork and NFTs.
- Accounting firms. PricewaterhouseCoopers and Prager Metis entered the metaverse last month. Prager Metis, which operates 23 physical offices across the real world, reportedly paid $35,000 for metaverse-based digital office space.
On top of these examples, real-estate firms have been buying up digital land within metaverse platforms, hoping to become a new type of landlord. And PwC plans to provide advising services to help companies navigate this new territory.
FAANG and the metaverse
Google and Facebook have been working on the metaverse for years. Mark Zuckerberg’s enthusiasm around the metaverse is reflected in the recent name change to his company. Whether or not Apple will enter the metaverse remains unclear – mixed reports swirl across the internet, although the latest announce the company’s disinterest in creating Zuckerberg-style experiences.
Moving to the metaverse
Is your enterprise sitting on the sidelines? According to the Harvard Business Review, brands that appeal to younger demographics likely can’t afford to wait much longer before entering this digital dimension of reality. Brands and marketing teams need to think creatively about how to adapt to the metaverse both in terms of products and storytelling surrounding products.
Metaverse experiences such as Decentraland and the Sandbox are based on Etherium blockchain. In general, blockchain technologies are considered extremely secure. This is because they are based on distributed leger technology, which is really a whole different discussion. But, in short, all of the stored copies of a leger technology-based network would need to experience an attack simultaneously in order for the information to be corrupted or destroyed.
Nonetheless, cyber crimes could still occur within the metaverse. For example, cyber stalking and cyber harassment have already been observed.
It’s the dawn of a new era. Some predict that the metaverse will be a regular facet of our everyday existence by 2030, in the way that smart phones are a facet of our everyday existence now. Others say that reaching the full potential of the metaverse may take until 2050 or longer.
Essayist and venture capitalist Matthew Ball eloquently captures the current state of affairs. “The narrative is a little ahead of the reality of these technologies, but this is a response to the enormity of the opportunity.” For more info about the metaverse, see this New York Times coverage.
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