The Major Players of the Metaverse
Richard Jones: Welcome to Thinking Caps. This week, we look at all things metaverse and what it actually means for marketers. Stay tuned. Now today as we look at the metaverse, I am joined by our VP of Brand and Community, the metaversely- acclaimed Francesca Gillett. Welcome, Fran.
Fran Gillett: Thanks. I was just in my little metaverse there.
Richard Jones: After Facebook caused an absolute frenzy by changing its parent name to Meta in a bid to pursue opportunities in the metaverse, scores of companies are announcing their own virtual reality VR plans.
Fran Gillett: The metaverse is a term coined in the 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash. To combine the prefix meta, which means showing or suggesting an explicit awareness of itself, and the word universe to describe a virtual universe that is accessed by VR tech.
Richard Jones: Enter the metaverse. As Satya Nadella from Microsoft says," The metaverse will allow us to bring computing to the real world and the real world to computing." The virtual world could indeed change the way that we work, the way that we play, the way that we interact and socialize, down to the way that we shop. It gives brands, potentially, a massive opportunity.
Fran Gillett: It does. It could all get a little bit weird. I'm not sure how I feel about this story. In Turkey, they're putting VR headsets on cows to make them pretend that they feel like they're in an outside, sunny field to see if they can produce more milk.
Richard Jones: That is completely nuts, but it shows that we need to get involved and look at what's actually happening here. Do we even want it? Let's dig into the metaverse. What are we going to do today?
Fran Gillett: In this episode, we're going to look at some of the main players. Then in a follow- up episode, we'll take a deeper look into what it actually means for marketers.
Richard Jones: Fantastic. All right, so let's start with Google. Now, Google has so far, surprisingly, kept very quiet on their plans about the metaverse. In an interview with Bloomberg, the Google CEO was vague when asked about the company's thoughts on the metaverse. I quote," It's always been obvious to me that computing over time will adapt to people rather than people adapting to computers. You won't always interact with computing in a black rectangle in front of you. Just like you speak to people, you see and interact, computers will become more immersive. They'll be there when you need them to be. I have always been excited about the future of immersive computing, ambient computing, and AR."
Fran Gillett: I think AR is a worrisome proposition amongst privacy watchdogs. A few companies have been bold enough to really embrace the potential.
Richard Jones: No, that is very true. Due to the lack of compelling hardware solutions, there has been a great deal of talk and little action. Google actually stood out as an early leader. If you remember Google Glass, which was a slim and lightweight pair of glasses with an AR overlay on one side. The screen's size and resolution were limited, but it was a fascinating early look at what might be coming. The Glass Explorer's Edition sold for$ 1500 in minimal quantities back in 2013, which seems like an absolute age ago now. It was quickly shut down amid outrage about the built in video recorder. Privacy issues coming to the fore there.
Fran Gillett: Okay, what about Apple? This is hot off the press. According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, even though Apple have announced their plans for a VR headset, they won't be getting involved in building the metaverse.
Richard Jones: Huh. Interesting.
Fran Gillett: Yep. I quote," I've been told pretty directly that the idea of a completely virtual world where users can escape to, like they can in metaverse platforms and Facebook visions of the future, is off limits for Apple," Gurman wrote.
Richard Jones: Out of big tech, it's definitely Facebook and Microsoft that have made their intentions the most clear around this emerging metaverse trend. Let's take a look at Microsoft. Changing the way that we work in the COVID- 19 era, Microsoft has unveiled its metaverse project called Microsoft Mesh. By using its HoloLens 2 head set, you can enter the virtual world where you can appear as an avatar in a virtual office. Microsoft prides itself on being a productivity company, so this is an obvious direction for them. The company says you can now engage with eye contact, facial expressions and gestures, so your personality shines in the metaverse. Take a look at this video.
Speaker 3: Connection is a spark that gives our lives meaning. It drives us to seek out others who feel the same way.
Speaker 4: Okay. Why don't you input the data and we'll take a look together. Hey, Mario, what you got for me?
Speaker 3: To find those who share our views, yet offer different perspectives.
Speaker 5: Foreign language. Look over here.
Speaker 3: Challenge us with new ways of seeing.
Speaker 5: I think we should...
Speaker 3: Deepen our understanding and enrich our lives.
Speaker 6: Foreign language.
Speaker 3: Great things happen when we commit to something bigger than ourselves.
Speaker 7: Let's take a closer look at it.
Speaker 8: Place this here. Let's see how we go from there, okay?
Speaker 3: This sense of collaboration and the feelings of connection it brings excites us.
Speaker 5: Hey, just in time.
Speaker 8: I'm going to move it slightly, okay?
Speaker 9: It's yours, take it.
Speaker 10: We have two planes right now on the same trajectory.
Speaker 3: As we put people first, technology fades into the background. It feels like anything but.
Speaker 10: Asia, what do you think?
Speaker 11: I think we had 3: 30 maintaining 2800. We'll be clear for approach.
Speaker 10: Excellent.
Speaker 3: This changes the way we see the world and in turn changes the world we see.
Speaker 7: These numbers are looking great, actually.
Speaker 3: There's promise in the possibilities. What we see and create next will stretch the imagination.
Speaker 9: Good morning, Sarah.
Speaker 9: Slowly coming towards the thumb.
Speaker 3: A world without boundaries.
Speaker 9: Good job. A lot better than yesterday.
Speaker 9: Excellent. Slowly bring-
Speaker 3: A world where technology enhances, not limits, humanity. With people front, center and in the spotlight, the future is here and here can be anywhere. Introducing Microsoft Mesh.
Fran Gillett: All right now onto Facebook, or should we say Meta?
Richard Jones: Indeed.
Fran Gillett: They've dedicated themselves to the metaverse vision. It's pretty much- Yeah, that was self- evident in their recent rebrand.
Richard Jones: As they have been successfully and aggressively selling Oculus headsets at pretty much a loss for the company, they're definitely trying to seed the market with the devices we need to make the most of the metaverse. Let's listen to their vision.
Mark: Imagine you've put on your glasses or headset and you're instantly in your home space. It has parts of your physical home recreated virtually, it has things that are only possible virtually, and it has an incredibly inspiring view of whatever you find most beautiful.
Speaker 14: Hey, are you coming?
Mark: Yeah. Just got to find something to wear. All right. Perfect.
Speaker 15: Hey, Mark.
Mark: Hey, what's going on? crosstalk
Speaker 16: What's up, Mark?
Mark: Whoa. We're floating in space? Who made this place? It's awesome.
Speaker 14: Right? It's from the creator I met in LA.
Boz: This place is amazing.
Mark: Boz, is that you?
Boz: Of course, it's me. You know I had to be the robot, man.
Mark: I thought I was supposed to be the robot.
Speaker 16: I knew you were bluffing.
Mark: Hey wait, where is Naomi? Let's call her.
Speaker 16: Yes! Naomi!
Mark: Hey, should we deal you in?
Naomi: Sorry. I'm running late, but you got to see what we're checking out. There's an artist going around Soho hiding AR pieces for people to find.
Mark: 3D street art? That's cool.
Speaker 14: Send that link over so we're can all look at it. This is stunning.
Speaker 16: Dude. That is something.
Mark: That's awesome. Wow.
Naomi: I love the movement.
Mark: Wait, it's disappearing.
Speaker 16: This is amazing.
Naomi: Hold on. I'll tip the artist and they'll extend it.
Boz: Wow. Brilliant.
Mark: If you guys like it here, I have another room that you're going to love. Check out this forest room.
Speaker 15: Cool. Let's see it.
Mark: Koi fish that fly? That's new. This is wild. Hey, one sec, Boz. It's Priscilla.
Priscilla: Hey, you have to see this. Beast is going crazy.
Mark: Oh, I love that guy. We've got to show that to the kids. Can you also send that to my dad?
Priscilla: I'll message him.
Mark: All right. See you at home. This place is great Boz, but there's something I got to get back to. All right. So that's a glimpse of a few ways that we're going to be able to get together and socialize in the metaverse.
Richard Jones: Fran, which version of the metaverse do you prefer?
Fran Gillett: Well, I think as long as it doesn't involve any cows. I'd say Facebook for me at the moment. And I still find it all a little bit weird. But Vidtech aren't the only actors in the emerging space and arguably aren't even in the lead.
Richard Jones: No. Agree.
Fran Gillett: I think Roblox could be a bit of the front runner.
Richard Jones: Yes, indeed. Roblox. In the next episode, we will look at a couple of examples of companies from the gaming industry, including Roblox, that illustrate what these new creative options offer engaging consumers. We also have a special webinar coming up with Chris Wiley, who was the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower if you remember. Looking at one of the biggest issues that big tech, regulators, politicians, and marketers have to contend with around the way the metaverse develops and we engage consumers within it. That, of course, is privacy. There is a link below, in the comments, to sign up for that. But for now it's goodbye from me.
Fran Gillett: It's goodbye from me.
Richard Jones: See you next time.
The metaverse is taking shape, quickly. But what opportunities and pitfalls lie ahead for your brand? In this episode we dig into the big players that are shaping the future such as Meta, Google and Microsoft along with their initial offerings for consumers entering the virtual world.