By CHRIS ILLING
“$500?” chuckled former Microsoft boss, Steve Ballmer, after Apple chief Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone in 2007. “This is the most expensive phone in the world. And it doesn’t appeal to business users at all because it doesn’t have a keyboard.”
Now Mark Zuckerberg says the Metaverse is the next big thing on the Internet. Accordingly, Facebook will no longer be a social media company in the future, but a metaverse company. The Metaverse is no longer just the Internet to look at. You take part in it, move in it. It is the Web 3.0.
Young people and, in particular, gamers have been dealing with the topics AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) combined with virtual, digital goods - also on the blockchain as NFTs (non-fungible tokens) - for a long time.
The flight simulators and 3D movies belong to the past of our childhood. The Metaverse wants to be a real world where we can really live, where we can really interact, where we can really do business with other people, where things can really happen. But Facebook does not have the monopoly on the Metaverse.
The ultimate feature of the Metaverse is decentralisation. In other words, there will not be one, two or three big platforms such as Amazon, Google or Facebook controlling the market. This new virtual universe works in a decentralised manner, and everyone can in principle network with everyone else in this virtual world and move around in it. In principle, each of us can create new worlds and spaces. For example, every person can decide in which world, in which room, in which environment, in which social interaction they go, and with which other person they meet.
The whole thing can always take place peer-to-peer, without an intermediary in between. You can communicate, interact, meet directly with each other in this metaverse. And this is where the next key topic comes into play: The blockchain.
The topic of a decentralised blockchain is already known from the area of crypto currencies. Here people interact, communicate and trade directly with each other without any bank, intermediary, state or any platform in between. It also gives us a huge opportunity to regain sovereignty over our personal data.
Due to the decentralised design, it may even be possible for every single person to earn money in the Metaverse. Nowadays, Facebook (FB.US) or Google (GOOGL.US) are tracking our entire surfing behaviour and make a lot of money with it. Everything is suddenly controlled peer-to-peer in a decentralised manner; everyone has sovereignty over their data
You could agree to having your behaviour tracked in the metaverse, with the condition that each of us earns money from advertisements that are displayed there. The Metaverse has already its own currencies and they are being traded daily. The 5 most popular crypto currencies are Enjin, Sandbox, Theta, Axie and Decentraland. Let us imagine what we can buy and experience within the Metaverse in the near future:
Travel will be no longer restricted to 5 percent of humanity. Everyone will be able to visit the beaches of The Bahamas or the European castles, and do so in a much more eco-friendly or sustainable fashion then flying there.
Meetings with friends and loved ones who live far away will now be the new norm. You arrange a meeting in the Metaverse and decide in which country you want to take a stroll together.
Music concerts and theatre plays can be experienced by everyone, and you are participating live in 3D in your living room.
The dreaded doctor’s visit will now be arranged online, and many mandatory steps before an operation can be dealt with from home.
Zoom meetings will now be in your online meeting room. You can sit together around a table again.
Joint teaching and research projects are suddenly possible across national and university borders. And in real time. For example, you could do research and work together in a Metaverse laboratory.
And to move and reside in the metaverse, an avatar is necessary. Such a person wants to be dressed naturally, he wants to be equipped, he wants to own certain things. Just like in the real world. Accordingly, there will also have to be the possibility in the digital world to buy various digital goods.
Digital goods are a huge topic, and are making more and more headlines with NFTs. And here, digital artworks and trading cards of our favourite soccer players, based on the blockchain, are just the beginning of the possibilities. According to some sources, Gucci (KER.PA) has purchased an undisclosed amount of land in The Sandbox, and will develop an interactive fashion experience based on Gucci Vault in collaboration with The Sandbox. Here, select Metaverse fashion items created by Gucci designers will be available for people to buy, own and use in their own Sandbox experience.
It will be exciting to see what will happen here in the next 10 to 20 years. This development cannot really be stopped.