Should businesses jump into the metaverse?

It’s a potential trillion-dollar revenue opportunity, say its supporters. It’s a waste of time, say naysayers. Who’s right – and when is the best time to dive in?

by Chris Stokel-Walker

Where Facebook leads, the world follows. And for good reason: the social media titan is a near-trillion-dollar business, with 2.8 billion people logging on to its apps every day of the year. When the Silicon Valley company moves, it moves markets.

All that explains why the company’s rebranding as Meta in October 2021 was such a momentous decision. After 17 years of dominating the world’s discourse, Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced a significant change of course for his company. The business was renamed Meta as an indication of its trust in the potential of the metaverse as a future technology vital to its success.

The metaverse was “the next chapter for the internet”, said Zuckerberg, who expected one billion people to inhabit it by the end of the 2020s. At its core, Zuckerberg envisaged an immersive, embodied internet “where you’re in the experience, not just looking at it”. The thing that makes the metaverse unique is the sense of presence – or social technology – that would allow users to do almost everything they can imagine from the comfort of their own homes. The founder of the now-renamed Meta portrayed a bold new vision of the world where users could enter the metaverse, then teleport their digital avatars from the home to the workplace and the after-hours bar without any issues.

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