Is the metaverse just marketing?

“These things that were very marginal and dismissed as some kind of crazy thing or ridiculed or ignored – now suddenly, at some point, they just start to look like common sense,” said Nick Bostrom, the University philosopher of Oxford best known for developing simulation theory.

As the prospect of the metaverse slowly dawns on the mainstream, tech companies have been competing behind the scenes to make it happen for years. Platform companies have quietly rushed to develop their own version of the metaverse, particularly by acquiring companies with useful hardware assets.

Facebook first bought Oculus, the VR games company, in 2014. Five years later, the company acquired CTRL-Laboratories, which has developed a bracelet capable of transmitting electrical signals from the brain to a computer. Then, amid a PR crisis late last year, Facebook announced it would be changing its name, renaming its parent company Meta, with some critics wondering if the name change was just a strategic marketing move.

Metaverse expert Matthew Ball is less cynical about the name change. “I think it’s important less as a marketing term and more as a signal,” he said. “I don’t really think it’s marketing because marketing is mostly about a product that’s available for sale,” which he says isn’t the metaverse yet.

If the rebranding was a signal to set trends, set ambitions and allocate resources, it worked. Shortly after Meta’s announcement, Microsoft bet that people would spend more and more time in the digital world, with its $70 billion purchase of Activision Blizzard, a social gaming company. Apple would be develop your own consumer VR headset.

Now, founders, investors, futurists, and executives are all trying to lay claim to the metaverse, exposing its potential for social connection, experimentation, entertainment, and most importantly, profit.

Even if the metaverse imagined by Mark Zuckerberg does not materialize by 2026some say a more immersive digital future is inevitable.

About Dianne Stinson

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