Forget the Browser Wars. Get ready for the Metaverse Wars.
Manoeuvres and signals from BigTech's biggest players suggest that a massive new battle for internet supremacy is brewing, that will make the Browser Wars look like a playground scrap. (by Max Gershfield )
When you think about tech news, it seems AI is the thing taking up all the inches.
When it comes to Metaverse news - it’s pretty quiet.
But just because it’s quiet, it doesn’t mean nothing is happening.
You just have to listen a bit harder.
Take this recent press release from Apple, for instance.
“Pixar, Adobe, Apple, Autodesk, and NVIDIA form Alliance for OpenUSD to drive open standards for 3D content”
Mark my words. The Metaverse War has already started.
The battle for who gets to make the rules - to set the standard - is occurring right now.
And if you think that’s a trivial thing, you don’t know your history.
The right to ‘set the standard’ was something Bill Gates was willing to nearly destroy Microsoft for.
He conjured up Internet Explorer as a brazen response to Marc Andreesen’s Netscape, and then used it to commit numerous antitrust violations.
In the process he got deposed by the US government, called ‘evasive and unresponsive’, and we got a glimpse of the true Bill Gates.
But, Microsoft survived and won the Browser Wars, and as a result, they ended up with a commanding position for the Web1 era - the benefits of which were felt across all lines of their empire.
When you are the standard, you make the rules. Sure, other companies might also participate.
But just as in the aristocracy, when a Duke was always ‘at home’ in any lesser nobleman’s house… the benefits of being the incumbent are real.
So with the stage set, let’s take a look at the emerging factions in the upcoming Metaverse Wars, their actions so far, their possible strategies, and the chances of their supremacy.
Let’s start with team Meta. They were first to strike their colours, changing their company name to Meta, and spending billions on the Oculus Quest and Horizon Worlds.
Despite being first to the scene, with infinite money and a user base that includes literally everyone and their gran, so far their product appears to be a hot mess that no one really likes or uses. VR pioneer John Carmack left Meta citing slow progress and internal confusion.
Notable with Horizon Worlds, is the fact that you need to be logged into your Facebook account and using your Quest. It’s not browser based.
Quite the walled garden - no doubt, it’s because Meta wants its 30% on all transactions done on its system. It's tithe, if you will.
While the general trajectory of Meta as a brand of late has been to get more byzantine, more filled with censorship and not better, only a fool would write them off.
They’re likely to strike an Unholy alliance with Unity, to make games for the Quest.
They’ll be able to bring substantial entertainment force to bear, to create traction - plus the ability to target almost every person with a smartphone with their offers.
The Quest 3 drops later this year, which will offer blended ‘Mixed Reality’ experiences.
But will that be enough to lure a critical mass to don expensive Oculus headsets and dwell in Zuck’s walled garden? We will have to wait and see.
Next, is Apple and their Alliance for Universal Scene Description.
At WWDC we had the launch of ‘Spatial Computing’ as a term- a strategic shot across Meta’s bows, presenting an alternative to the Metaverse concept.
Together with their high end Vision Pro headset (snorkel sold separately), Apple are presenting an initial offering aimed at those with the money to live futuristically. For a more measured take, check out this excellent article by Tom Ffiske for Immersivewire.
What’s more significant, is who else is in the Alliance. Adobe? Autodesk?
If you’re a designer or creator reading this in your co-working space, sit up and take note.
Because my hunch is that before too long, you’re going to be recruited to join the Metaverse War on the side of the Alliance for Universal Scene Description (Glory be to USD! Hoo-ra)
Yes indeed. I imagine the USD will make a play for the creatives, the ones who grew up in Apple’s walled garden using Illustrator Photoshop and Autodesk, and enlist them to make the slickest Metaverse with glossy production values.
And honestly, that strategy might just work. If there is one walled garden that I still can’t quite quit, it’s Apple’s.
So expect to see Adobe updates that offer spatial computing functionality, as well as seamless cloud uploads to the USD compliant metaverse.
Will you be able to upload your work elsewhere? It remains to be seen, but my hunch is that it’ll be a lot less seamless, so just be a good creative and stick with your tribe.
We’ve explored the two emerging factions in the Metaverse War. We’ve conceded that both will have very credible offerings.
But the one thing that neither faction will be able to truly offer?
An actual Metaverse.
A true metaverse is a single, universal virtual world. Interconnectivity and open-ness is key to the entire thing. I don’t think that either Apple or Meta will be able to share users.
Each of them views us as users on its system. It’s their turf, where they get to impose their tithes and their TOS. No matter how slick the package is, they will never be able to offer us the real deal. We’ll have to see how many of the dev community choose to bend the knee and swear fealty to one of these Centra-Metaverses. We certainly won’t be.
Which leads us to the third faction in the Metaverse War, and likely the one that the Boardrooms in Silicon Valley are most afraid of.
The Decentralised Metaverse. Built by struggling devs, doing it for the love, not the money. This metaverse is more likely to be made using true universal standards for practicality’s sake.
It’s why we’ve built the OASIS API - to provide anyone with the ability to contribute to the decentralised metaverse, with access to cross-platform interoperability across Web2 and Web3.
It’s a set of tools that allow us to build an internet that works better, works for everyone, and will help give digital sovereignty to the world.
Our World launches soon, as a visual way to access the OASIS API - an augmented reality decentralised metaverse. And following this, we have STAR - a low code metaverse generator that visually represents the world’s data ontology in a cyber-celestial way.
These releases will integrate with frameworks like Holochain, and connect with the tens of thousands of others who are following their own paths to help to build a better world. That’s the true decentralised movement - something which we are all a part of, yet which no one entity controls.
This kind of idea is the exact opposite of what the likes of Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg want. They will try very hard to make their systems as attractive as possible, and throw billions at us to entice us in. But we must not lose the faith or take the easy way out. The stakes are very high.
So - this is a call to arms. Help us to build the decentralised metaverse, as well as a better world. Follow us here and on our current twitter account @ourworldthegame for further updates, which will be coming soon. Many thanks, and much love! In Love, Light & Hope,
The Our World Tribe David Ellams + Max Gershfield
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