Facebook rebranded itself as Meta (for “Metaverse”). Is it Mark’s attempt to claim future Internet ownership, or an excuse to replace the aged brand name?
There‘s been a lot of noise about Metaverse (the next Internet generation) since FB CEO Mark Zuckerberg decided to communicate Facebook rebranding as Meta to the world with his quite lengthy letter last month. It is common knowledge that the Facebook name, is not representing the company group anymore, and rebranding now is a good distraction opportunity from the Facebook Papers (secreted out of the firm by whistleblower Frances Haugen). Plus, it is an attempt to own metaverse, or to at least reserve a <meta> spot for the future. So it’s a typical two (or rather three) birds with one stone situation.
What is “Metaverse”
Metaverse is composed of two words, “meta” and “uni-verse”. Meta originates from greek, and it means “after” (implies future or change), also a popular term used in programming. Metaverse is a new, shared digital platform that aims at offering high-quality 3D Virtual and Augmented Reality experience via the internet.
Is Facebook the only one creating this technology?
Second Life was a very successful application first appeared in 2003, a harbinger of the metaverse concept. Its creators Linden Lab, did not see Second Life as a game, but as an alternate reality in the digital world. You could spend a fraction of real money to buy virtual asset(s), and sell it back to other players at a profit or loss.
There are many companies involved in metaverse development as we speak. Companies like Apple, Amazon, Epic Games, Microsoft, NVIDIA, ROLBOX, etc, to name a few. So we can only expect a big fight over who will prevail in this new digital dimension environment. Of course, applications, services and products will vary according to each company’s DNA. But it is going to be a marathon, not a sprint and it will definitely change the way we do things, from studying, to entertaining, to impulsive buying…
What does it mean investment-wise
Investment funds, and financial institutions are watching closely and some already take investing positions on their presumably winning horse(s). At the same time crypto-rich investors snap up virtual land, artworks, buildings, avatars, and see their crypto-coins multiply… These are called NFTs (non-fungible tokens – a new type of virtual assets that has its ownership status and authenticity verified by blockchain. NFTs have exploded in popularity in 2021, with prices skyrocketing). Investments in virtual enviromnents (like Decentraland, Cryptovoxels, Somnium Space and The Sandbox, may have huge returns, but are highly risky as no-one can predict what will happen in the future). For potential investors caution, however, that while big money is flowing into NFTs, the market could represent a price bubble, with the risk of major losses if the hype dies down. There could also be prime opportunities for fraudsters in a market where many participants operate under pseudonyms.
Are we ready to use this fascinating futuristic universe?
No. Apart from the NFTs (bubble or not), everything else is in a conceptual, primitive stage. We are far from using it, at least in the way that Mark Zuckerberg described it in his letter. Eventually we will, and there will be a huge debate about the ethics and the dangers of this new digital environment and how it will affect -consume even-, peoples’ real lives. But till then, a very clever CEO and his team, managed to get the world’s (3bn FB users’) attention, promote for free and connect the rebranded name to the new era of internet to come, “Metaverse”…