Exactly 20 years ago I prepared myself, without knowing it, to make a modest contribution to 2 of the 6 building blocks of the Metaverse: I completed my studies as a telecom engineer and on March 6, 2001 I started my internship at the Australian National University where I was going to explore the boundaries of Virtual Reality, which fascinated me even then. Since then, my common thread has always been closely linked to digital.
A few months ago I published in Harvard Business Review France an article detailing the convergence of three ingredients at the heart of the Metaverse.
Much ink has been spilled on the subject since Facebook’s announcements. Most published articles and reports feed many fantasies. Through a series of articles based on an in-depth study we conducted on the Metaverse, Arthur D. Little offers you to go beyond fantasies, to help you see better through this technological fog, etc. to help you make the right business decisions !
This article aims to answer the question “Does the Metaverse already exist?” To answer this, it is essential to define what we are talking about. We therefore offer you a definition and would like to know your definition or how you would like to request ours.
In the 1990s, Internet users were prisoners of their access provider
When I think of the Internet in the mid-90s, I think of the mythical sound of the 56k modem. I also think of AOL and its famous “you’ve got mail” (and I’m sure some of you think of the original English version 🙂). Once connected to the internet via AOL, it was possible to access a whole host of mysterious things. I especially remember the “cats” – which I pronounced in French (meow!). Unfortunately, this door to the Internet was really just a door to a proto-Internet surrounded by impenetrable walls. A walled garden, with no walkways to other gardens. An internet bubble, not connected to other bubbles. Unable to exchange information or communicate with other walled gardens such as Compuserve, Prodigy etc.
By the late 1990s, it became apparent that the web browser had to allow communication and exchange of information with every other user, regardless of their Internet Service Provider (ISP), or Internet Service Provider ISP in English. Usage has taken over the walled gardens and the internet has become (to some extent) interoperable.
The Metaverse (tomorrow) will be on the convergence of a set of proto-metaverses (current) or will not
The Metaverse is in the same state as the Internet in the mid-90s. Today there is no Metaverse, but a whole series of proto-metaverses. Walled Garden Metaverse Embryos. Most companies, such as Roblox, Epic, Nvidia, Microsoft, Decentraland, and Meta, that strive to develop Metaverse are in fact developing non-interoperable proprietary platforms. This means that today it is not possible to exchange virtual assets or simply communicate from one platform to another. Until there is interoperability, there will be no Metaverse – and we won’t discuss this critical uncertainty in depth in a future article.
However, despite this embryonic state of the Metaverse, it is interesting to look at the definitions and long-term visions these companies have. Despite the heterogeneity of what they market today (and even the heterogeneity of the industries they come from), there is a strong convergence:
So how do you define the Metaverse?
First of all, you’ll notice that I use the term “the Metaverse”; and this indicates 2 things. First of all, we’ll use the determiner “the” to underline the fact that to talk about Metaverse, a great deal of interoperability will be needed to get out of the walled garden/proto-metaverse era. Just as we use the term Web or Internet in French and in English, we use the English term Metaverse to emphasize that it is the correct name given to this object.
Here is the definition we present to you for the Metaverse:
The Metaverse is the future version of the internet that further blurs the lines between reality and virtuality, on the convergence of immersive spaces, social and collaborative experiences and the creative economy.
“Future Version of the Internet” highlights the fact that this is a new evolution of the Internet and not a paradigm shift or any particular private platform. “Who further blurs the lines between reality and virtuality” wants to emphasize that what we call reality is increasingly and will be supplemented with layers of digital information. In addition, our definition tries to underline the fact that the Metaverse is at the heart of a large convergence. So the future version of the Internet:
- Will be spatialized and increasingly immersive, taking advantage of 3D environments from gaming and simulations and digital models from industry (digital twins etc).
- Will enable more and more social experiences and make remote collaboration ever easier.
- Will benefit more and more from creative economy (user-generated content) and market platforms will increasingly sell physical and digital assets.
What do you think of this definition? Does it match what we perceive around you? Would it apply to your industrial context?
In the following articles, we will deepen the three pillars above and present the bricks that make up The Metaverse to analyze the obstacles that must be overcome to enable the arrival of the Metaverse. Finally, we offer you concrete axes to seize real business opportunities now.
 The Creator Economy is an economy facilitated by apps and platforms that allow creators to monetize their creations (virtual and real).
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