Like many, I was not surprised when Facebook renamed as Meta. After all, this was the company that transformed the notion of ‘friendship’, hurling it into virtual space. But when Microsoft recently announced a deal to acquire Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion, that got my attention. Google and Apple are also investing heavily in the Metaverse. I suppose this heavy investment by tech giants makes it a ‘thing’.
So, what is the Metaverse? According to tech writer Brian Chen, the word “metaverse” describes a fully realized digital world that exists beyond the one in which we live, offering a variety of experiences, environments and assets that exist in the virtual space. In this virtual space, we can presumably have a second, digital life, unfettered by the messiness of our regular lives. It makes you wonder if we will need to come up with a new name for reality, to set it apart from this new virtual reality.
As a somewhat old-school market researcher, I wonder where all this is leading us. After all, I spend most of my waking hours thinking about the challenges and rigors of how companies find success in a highly competitive world with a jumble of alternatives for whatever firms or people want or need.
I wouldn’t want to guess where all this is leading, but it’s my guess that the companies betting big on Metaverse are hoping that operating in virtual space will serve to simplify buying choices and remove much of the friction that currently exists with the multitude of alternatives for anything you or I might buy.
But because we do live in a highly complex and competitive world, what we today call ‘reality’ will hold sway. If I’m wrong, I worry about the generations to come.