Back in July of this year Mark Zuckerberg, announced that he wanted to turn Facebook into a Metaverse. Following other companies that started using the Metaverse on their platforms like the Fortnite game and Roblox. Facebook already started venturing into this direction with their virtual reality-related devices like virtual headsets, neural wrist bands, and AR glasses.
What is ‘The Metaverse’?
It is a universe where physical reality blends into the digital realm and where users can interact with one another. Particularly in the interest of retailers, brands, and products. For example, Fortnite collaborated with fashion brand Balenciaga, where players were able to purchase the outfits for their avatars. Users could digitally dress in a $750 jumper for just $12. It caused controversy as a step too far and some said it cheapened the luxury brand however, the fashion retailer is the real winner as it muscled in on the lucrative 2.7 million user platform.
Where does the phrase come from? Well, it came from the sci-fi fiction novel Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson and refers to a virtual space shared by humans and digital beings. Big named technologists like Jeff Bezos and Brian McClendon the creator of Google Earth say they used this novel as inspiration for their work. Now the phrase is a place of heated discussion, some appealing to the ‘new future’ and some believing we’ve gone too far.
Now Zuckerberg has announced the transition of Facebook into Meta, which will look into the future of social media potential and will allow him and others to start creating inside the alternative cyberspace which he calls ‘the metaverse’. On the 28th of October Zuckerberg said at Connect, a VR conference “Starting today, our company is Meta.” He stated that he feels Facebook, although successful and a pioneer in its own way, is dated. He mentioned he needed to look further into the future. Critics mention the change is a ploy to move away from its tarnished reputation like after the data leaks and the ignorance of the mental health-related issues Facebook causes on its users. However, Facebook is not the first tech giant to discuss the topic of ‘metaverse’, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella discussed the idea consisting of digital twins that extend the concept of remote working through virtual presence and avatars. Apple also has explored this new possibility and is expected that the three giants will have Metaverse hardware products in the space by 2022.
What does this mean for Facebook? Well, first it includes dropping the name, Facebook’s Twitter handle is now Meta, Facebook Reality Labs are now just Reality Labs, and their Oculus and VR devices are now named Meta Oculus. A new logo in the shape of a Mobius strip while also appearing like a unifying M for Meta, but all in traditional Facebook colours. Not a lot has been seen just yet but is forthcoming of Facebook’s entrance into the virtual realm.
For Facebook’s consumers, this means being able to interact and purchase digitally, to live a virtual life. But will this soon bleed out into all consumers? And from a brand perspective, they will soon have to start marketing their products and services more digitally.
Is this going to change our lives? In short, no. Right now the process and platforms are not fully fleshed out and developed to conquer the way we work as humans. However, it is a spark and a bit of entrepreneurship into the future. It is just another evolution of humankind and the technology we create.
In conclusion, I personally believe there is a lot of ground to be excited about, I think development and the future are so exciting. I also share the thoughts of critics that this new era of technology will never be a reality. Although Meta is cool and out there I also believe this is Facebook’s way of washing itself of its dirty laundry. And for the future of brands, I think consumers currently don’t have the desire enough for the ‘Metaverse’ to actually have any worth delving into this world just yet. Also, who wants to look like this?