Where is the metaverse Mark Zuckerberg promised us?
This month makes it one year since Mark Zuckerberg announced the Metaverse with so much funfare. There was so much excitement and the buzz about it. Anywhere you turned to it was the new topic of discussion among both investors and internet users alike.
In fact, it was precisely on October 28, 2021 that The Facebook CEO announced that Facebook is changing its name. What was formerly known as Facebook Inc., the parent company behind the Facebook app, as well as Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, and the virtual reality company Oculus will now be called Meta Platforms Inc.
The move was clearly in solidarity with the metaverse, as it seek to become a full metaversecompany. By metaverse we refer to an immersive next-generation version of the internet that relies heavily on virtual reality technology. According to Mark, instead of browsing or sending messages online, you could feel like you’re physically there. There exists the possibility of interacting with virtual versions of real people, places, and stores. From October 28 to the remaining days of 2021 no topic got more mention on the internet than the topic of metaverse.
However, it appears the buzz is no longer there. Not many people are talking about metaverse today. And no one is even talking about the fact that the expectations are not quite here yet. So this leads to the question, “where is the metaverse Mark promised us?’
But before we go ahead let’s understand better what the term metaverse really mean.
What is Metaverse?
If you read lots of history, you are probably familiar with Neal Stephenson’s 1992 science fiction novel Snowcrash.
The word ‘Metaverse’ is actually a portmanteau of the words ‘meta’ and ‘universe’ and was popularised by Snowcrash. In the book, the term referred to an immersive virtual world that was accessed via goggles, where people were represented by customized avatars and interacted in a realistic virtual space.
Today, metaverse still refers to a virtual world. It is a hypothetical future version of the internet built around immersive virtual worlds, virtual reality, and augmented reality. It is the 3D version of internet involving text, images and now touch. The promoters believe that in the metaverse, people can go to school, go to work, play games, attend concerts and even organize parties through a unified virtual experience. This means that one can visit almost anywhere in the world and have the real physical experience without having to leave one’s house.
Big tech companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Google have all been working hard for the soul of metaverse. The fight is that of who will eventually take credit for the development of the metaverse. They all believe that the potential it holds are enormous. And first-mover advantage will be key in tapping into the valuable virtual markets. But Facebook has to go the extra mile by renaming itself Meta specifically to signal its focus on the development of the coming Metaverse.
But Does Metaverse Really Exist?
Mark Zuckerberg claim the internet is not sufficient the way it currently exists. He believes people need to have better experience when they engage online. And he believe that metaverse is the perfect way the internet should be. Of course, he wants to offer metaverse as a gift to humanity. In fact, he was so sure of the concept that he could stake the whole of Facebook for it.
But the question to ask is “does metaverse really exist?” And the answer is ‘NO’ – at least for now.It is a concept in Mark Zuckerberg’s head. It refers to a time in the future when the impossible shall become possible.
Currently, there are some spaces online with similarities to the metaverse. For example, people already attend live events, interact with friends’ avatars, buy virtual goods, and even shop at brand-name stores in these worlds. But none resemble the parallel digital reality the Facebook founder envisions. So as at today it is safe to say that the metaverse is still been expected.
The truth is that the metaverse is still years (if not decades) away from existence – we are not yet talking about mainstream adoption. However, Mark believes that it will come and that it will alter everything else.
Why Did Facebook Change its Name to Meta?
But does Facebook really have to change its name to pursue the course of metaverse?
The answer will depend on which side of the theory you belongs.
First, Mark Zuckerberg knows that the Metaverse is a beautiful bride and that other top brands will like to control it. And that is what he is desperate to avoid.
We all know that one day, the metaverse will come. But who builds and controls it also matters. The internet as we know it today was largely built by academics and government-funded researchers as an open standard for people to create and share information.
But Facebook more than any other private company in the world appear set to define, own and control the metaverse for.
To buttress this point and prove to the whole world how serious it is Facebook had to change its name to Meta.
How Close is The Metaverse From Been a Reality?
So far we can see that there is no argument that in line with Mark’s promise there will be a metaverse. But we also know that the metaverse is not yet here with us, as at today. The question to ask therefore will be that of, ‘how close to reality is the metaverse’?
The answer to the question however depends on one’s definition of the term metaverse.
Some believe that the only way of seeing metaverse is as a virtual world, where you can move from point to point in a seamless virtual experience using a single avatar. But metaverse is also a digital world that is becoming more immersive than ever.
So as it stands there are existing metaverse. For example:
You can simply Google a dinosaur and look at it in your living room using augmented reality.
In Fortnite, you can play the game using an avatar
Still in Fortnite one can watch concerts in a joint immersive experience with thousands of other Fortnite community members.
There is Facebook Horizons, a virtual world in which your avatar can join meetings and connect socially with other players.
Farmers are even using virtual reality to keep their cows happy. And the immersive experience they enjoy helps them create more milk.
As Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth continues to take a hit partly due to it’s investment in Metaverse it is normal that questions are asked. It is normal to ask if it is not mistake that Mark made in chasing after the metaverse. In fact there are questions of whether there is anything like metaverse at all. Many people see the whole metaverse idea as been unrealistic.
But the truth is that metaverse exists sometime in the future. Mark Zuckerberg is one man that sees the future. In fact, he could never have bet the future of his company on something he is not sure about. But how long it will take before metaverse finally becomes a reality is yet to be seen. Mark himself has accepted that it will be a long term project. In fact, in an interview published Tuesday with The Verge, Zuckerberg said VR, the technology he bet his entire $340 billion company on a year ago, is entering “the trough of disillusionment.” That’s a term folks in the tech industry like to use when excitement around a new technology drastically wanes.
But even at that I still trust that metaverse will come through. In fact, I will be the last person to bet against it. And when metaverse finally becomes a reality, Mark’s net worth will bounce back also.