While it caught everyone’s fancies when it dawned on us like something straight out of a science fiction novel, the main problem with the metaverse is that there is no real definition as to what it is. Is it a virtual space where avatars can have virtual meetings in boardrooms? Or is it like the internet – where the blockchain connects all the pieces of data and has NFTs that are unique?
So when metaverse burst upon our consciousness, everyone wanted to be on it – it would be great to “experience” our products, one said. It would boost customer engagement, said another. But apart from some stray successes which can be attributed to the sheer novelty of the then new kid on the block, if not anything else, nothing really took off. Nobody really knew metaverse well, to harness the potential possibilities it offered.
And just as everyone wondered what to do with the metaverse, there was brighter, spunkier, far more intelligent new kid on the block – artificial intelligence. Generative AI and ChatGPT simply blew everyone’s mind and now everyone’s trying to see what they can do with this new fascinating development in technology. But one must remember that this is still in its nascent phase. Coca-Cola was smart and built its foray into AI with a competition thrown open to its fans. Levi Strauss tried to jump on the DEI bandwagon through AI and bombed.
Marketers would do well to go the direction of AI rather than the metaverse. Like the proverbial mice that jump off a sinking ship, (the analogy of the rodent ends there) Disney has dropped metaverse ventures. And one would think that the metaverse lends itself best to an enterprise like Disney with its magical castles and alternate universes, as it were.
If Meta has put metaverse on a back seat, and if Disney has abandoned all experiments in metaverse altogether, it appears that the moving finger has indeed written. And having writ, it has moved on.