The metaverse will bring a new wave of usability improvements that will change the way we experience the internet.
Looking at what the big players are doing, it’s easy to see the Metaverse (or Metaverse) as a great opportunity for brands. Additionally, Facebook has even changed its business name in honor of the new trend. Microsoft’s CEO acknowledged that their latest and largest acquisition (game maker Activision Blizzard for $ 68.7 billion) was a side bet in games, but also a bigger step towards the Metaverse and the next Internet.
The history of these two companies shows something: they have been slow to adapt to new technologies. And now it seems like they don’t want to miss out on the next evolution. Microsoft initially underestimated the internet and had to deal with an expensive (and very successful) turnaround. Facebook was also too slow to pick up mobile internet and had to acquire emerging competitors like WhatsApp and Instagram that threatened to outshine the social network through their mobile apps.
Facebook is also looking for a new growth story as its core business enters a level of maturity (user acquisition and use of social networks flatten out). Both companies seem to have learned their lesson, and we don’t think we should lose the boat on this particular Internet evolution.
The list of companies offering insight into the metaverse is growing. Google is working on an updated Metaverse version of its interactive glasses. Epic Games raised $ 1 billion to support the internal development of a metaverse.
This may not be the case today, but your daily life will likely be different in a few years due to the metaverse. The metaverse can change the way people do online marketing. But what is it?
What is the metaverse?
The Metaverse is a virtual digital world where interconnected platforms replicate and enhance real-life experiences or create new digital and hybrid services.
For those who are puzzled, at the beginning there was Web 1.0 (web browser with images, colors, audio and possibly video), then Web 2.0 or the social element of the web (social networks, for example), and now Web 3.0 is emerging as a new form, where AI and Blockchain can eliminate intermediaries and make information and services more readily available, more private and potentially more secure.
The metaverse fits here because it will be a contemporary of Web 3.0, it refers to the user experience rather than a larger role in society or technology.
Imagine moving from the two-dimensional experience of a web browser screen to a three-dimensional virtual world in which people, companies and services can create a new presence or identity. You, or technically your “avatar”, would move to the various shops, offices, theaters, meeting places of the metaverse. The avatar will be able to talk to others, listen to concerts, buy items, organize meetings and work, all without the need to physically be in a particular place. Many of them are now available as virtual services without the new 3D interface (web conferencing, video channels, e-commerce site).
It’s also worth noting that many of these three-dimensional worlds already exist as games – Second Life, Minecraft, and Roblox are good examples of virtual games turned into virtual worlds.
How would you navigate this new world? Possibly via voice assistants (rather than URLs) and using virtual reality headsets or augmented reality interfaces (which will overlay virtual objects on a smartphone screen by pointing at the area next to you.
In the future, instead of VR headsets, people could see holograms in front of them, and thanks to Web 3.0, digital currency (blockchain) objects and AI assistants will make navigation easier. Yes, it looks like a Star Trek episode, but much of the technology we use today would fit in perfectly with the original TV series.
When will the Metaverse arrive?
We don’t have a “metaverse” yet, but many companies seem to appreciate its potential and are happy to join. Several brands have already made the leap. However, before making a hasty move, we suggest you take a moment to reflect. Creating a new Internet experience is an important step: it allows us to look back and see what needs to be changed or improved. There is a lot to improve in today’s customer experience before we all start dedicating ourselves to holograms.
Today, cyberspace is a great tool, but it suffers from major flaws. Customers and businesses do not have a “real” identity on the Internet. With the history of fraud and digital crime in mind, society must approach identity not as an afterthought, but as a key issue. It is time to make decisions that will have a positive impact on the lives and safety of many people, including vulnerable people and minors.
Navigating the metaverse today is a traditional experience. To access Nike’s “Metaverse” experience in Roblox, you need to download the Roblox app, search for Nike (typing), then click on a 2D image of Nike displayed in the results. After that you can play basketball against other real players. There are still a lot of old school web / app interactions in early Metaverse experiences. New interface models and modes are needed to deliver a new experience. Otherwise, the metaverse will die after a short, gadget-laden life.
Payments wasn’t designed for the web, and although credit cards are now commonly used, it’s another afterthought with shortcomings. The concept of web 3.0 would often include a reference to “cryptocurrencies”, or more simply digital currencies. In fact, most metaverse platforms have built their own blockchain currency in their own system. There is still work to be done to clarify legal compliance and safety for most of them. Facebook’s multiple attempts to create a global digital currency (Libra / Diem) have been rejected by local and global regulations. It takes more than a blockchain solution to create a digital currency – the legal framework for the actual digital currency doesn’t yet exist.
So, is the future already here? NO. But that’s what makes the whole metaverse subject so interesting. A new wave of usability improvements is coming that will change the way we experience the internet. These may not replace the web as we know it, but they will complement and expand it. We have time to understand, plan, test and deliver a new experience.