It’s been six months since Mark Zuckerberg posted open letter announces his vision of the metaverse and the rebranding of Facebook to Meta.
Even if it paints an attractive picture – “in the metaverse, you can do almost anything you can think of,” we are told – the letter leaves plenty of room for translation, sparking debate as to what form this new virtual world. kuhaa. .
Some argue that the Metaverse already exists (at least in its building blocks), while others say that the necessary behavior will not be met for many years. But broadly speaking, it is understood that the metaverse will consist of a series of interconnected spaces connecting the physical and digital worlds, by mixing traditional and augmented reality (XR) platforms.
In his letter, Zuckerberg acknowledged that the metaverse “cannot be done by one company” and will require new management models to ensure that “more people have a stake in the future.”
He also promised to offer developers and creators low fees “in as many cases as possible”, to encourage innovation and “boost the overall creative economy”.
However, there are indications that this utopian vision will easily melt under the weight of the monopolistic impulse. However, we can end up with a closed metaverse system that is managed by Meta alone, supported by many of its services, powered by the server infrastructure, and accessible via Oculus headsets.
But can a metaverse controlled by one party be considered a metaverse?
The issue of interoperability
While the metaverse is expected to enable many new consumer experiences (from virtual concerts to a new generation of online games), it will also put in place commercial services designed to support . collaboration.
One such application was Arthur, a virtual reality dating platform specially designed for business use. The idea is not for employees to spend their entire day working in the virtual world, but to seamlessly switch between media depending on the nature of the activity available.
“In 2022 and beyond, we need to realize that the old system is out of date before the pandemic. The downsides we’re seeing staring at a screen for ten hours a day are linked to fact that we are not made to work in 2D, we are made to work in 3D ”, explained Christoph Fleischmann, founder of Arthur.
However, realizing the full potential of the metaverse will depend more on the ability to move between computer platforms. Free movement between services is equally important, he told us.
“A critical element is interoperability; the ability to move objects and IDENTIFYING through apps. The moment it becomes a metaverse is when we can move from a business-focused service to a social app and back again, ”Fleischmann said.
“It all depends on how much we can reduce friction, because openness is the key for the metaverse to be an ubiquitous technology that everyone adopts.”
Asked about the possibility of this level of interoperability, given the corporate tendencies to replace the metaverse, Fleischmann agreed that universal standards need to be established – and soon will be.
He also said he expects technologies such as the blockchain to play a role in decentralizing metaverse management, strengthening democracy through technological mechanisms that, in theory, cannot withstand manipulation.
“It’s a naturally unstoppable challenge for a company to build the metaverse on its own,” Fleischmann told us. “Organizations can own parts of the Metaverse, like real-world countries, but no one can own the Metaverse alone.”
The concern, however, is that effective standardization will not happen soon to prevent the metaverse from splitting into multiple mini-verses, each owned and operated by one organization, and separated by invincibility. boundaries.
Another player with ambitions in the space is HTC, which made the popular Vive series of VR headsetsone of the few legitimate competitors in Oculus ’Meta line.
In a scenario where Meta has full control of the metaverse, HTC’s risks will be sidelined; it doesn’t matter the quality of the business hardware if it is not supported by core metaverse applications.
Talk to Tech Radar Pro At MWC earlier this year, the company’s head of hardware, Shen Ye, explained that the Metaverse was something HTC “always built” on, before it got a name and was raised in the mainstream public consciousness. The implicit proposition is that no company has the right to own the concept.
While not asked to comment specifically on Meta’s position, Shen also wanted to emphasize the importance of open standards, to improve broad hardware support and to enable integration of services from multiple vendors. .
“At the end of the day, we want to establish standards. There are W3 standards for the web, but currently there is no equivalent for the metaverse. We will try to use as many open standards as possible.
“Our goal is the goal of openness; it’s not about building a closed metaverse – we want other universes to connect with ours. We are not trying to make a wall garden here.
Like Fleischmann, Shen has made a move toward the potential of the blockchain to help support decentralization in the metaverse. Specifically, he emphasizes the role of cryptocurrencies, which breaks down Fees and NFTs, which help enforce property rules in the virtual world.
In a demonstration of its commitment to the idea, HTC recently launched a new crypto-centric XR Navigatorbuilt on the foundations of a project abandoned by Mozilla.
“We see Vive Browser as the key to the metaverse, enabling virtual reality -wide experiences, computer and smartphone. Our goal is to have a cross-platform browser that supports Web 3.0 and crypto use cases, ”Shen told us.
HTC also recently announced Vive Connect, a cross-platform hub space where people can display their NFTs and other digital assets and participate in virtual events. The long -term strategy is likely to establish the service as a gateway to the metaverse that users trust.
All good sounds
Right now Meta is making all the right noises. The company says it wants to work with third parties, help set open standards, prioritize cyber security and privacyand resist unequal market dynamics.
However, by publishing the open letter, Zuckerberg completely positioned his company (and to some extent, himself) as the founder of the metaverse. In fact, Meta claims a digital domain before.
Provides the resources and infrastructure available to the company, and the commitment of its founder supposedly worried with the metaverse project, other space players may be rightly wary.
No one knows what the Metaverse will look like in the end, but the history of Big Tech tells us it can’t be as open, fair, and inclusive as we’ve been told.