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Meta’s Not Building the Metaverse Alone: Snap Inc, XRApplied, and Other VR/AR Hitters Are Stepping up to the Plate

Love it or hate it, the metaverse is coming. Facebook’s rebranded to Meta, and younger generations are increasingly blurring the lines between real and virtual worlds. Indeed, the metaverse revolution is looking a lot like the social media boom of the early 2000s. Now, the real question is not if the metaverse is coming (it is), but what companies will eventually emerge as leaders in this space.

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Columnists and social media pundits the world over have plenty of questions about the timing of Facebook’s rebranding to Meta—or, more formally, Meta Platforms, Inc. (NASDAQ: FB). With a swirling mass of scandals, leaks, and investigations forming around the company, the announcement was certainly a convenient and potent digression. However, as questionable as the timing of the decision might be, there is at least one element that remains unquestionable: Meta’s commitment to the metaverse. With twenty percent of its staff are already dedicated to building new Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies and another ten-thousand metaverse jobs already in the pipeline, Meta’s commitment is huge, to say the least.

However, while all the press attention might be focused squarely on Meta for the moment, it is far from the only company set to play a key role in building the metaverse. The reality is that the metaverse will encompass a whole lot more than just Oculus Headsets, Ray-Ban smartglasses, and a social media platform. We are seeing companies like VR and AR specialists XRApplied Technologies, Inc. (CSE: XRA | OTCQB: XRAPF) shaping up to gain massive traction for their cross-platform solutions, despite it still being relatively early days in the VR/AR adoption curve.

Skeptical about the Meta metaverse? Don’t be; it’s already here

Of course, one of the other big questions about Facebook’s decision to rebrand to Meta is whether the metaverse is even going to be a thing. For those of us who grew up without a smartphone glued to our hands, this does seem like a major concern—the thought of being constantly wired into some alternate digital universe is just too foreign of a concept.

However, things change once we take a moment to observe broader trends, particularly amongst younger digital native generations. Many are already participating in an early iteration of the metaverse through experiences like Decentraland and VR Chat. In fact, somewhat curiously given the fully-immersive nature the metaverse will eventually take on, one of the most substantial signs that the metaverse is already here is in regular computer games like Roblox.

Here’s what the metaverse is really all about

To understand why the adoption of a game like Roblox is a sign of an early metaverse, we first need to understand what the metaverse is about. To do that, we first need to realize that, while AR and VR technologies are a key ingredient in creating the always-on metaverse experience that’s inevitably coming, they alone do not define the metaverse. In fact, the metaverse is not even a technology, per se.

Rather, the metaverse is best defined as the space that exists where the real world and the digital world overlap with each other—an overlap that is becoming increasingly blurred, even for older generations.

Understandably, the lines between the real and the virtual are blurriest for younger generations who’ve grown up in the digital age. In what is perhaps one of the most authoritative descriptions of the metaverse published to date, New York Times columnist, Alex Williams, has his eight-year-old son, Anton, take us on a journey into the Roblox world. In the article, Anton talks about his time in Roblox as though it were real. Of course, he’s cognizant that it’s not real, but still describes it as so: “You get to go into a different world. I mean, you don’t get to. But it seems like it.”

Anton’s experience is not unique either. Indeed, one of the most common stories we read about is parents’ concerns about the spillovers between their child’s “online” and “real” identities.

Now, the key point here is not the debate over how healthy or otherwise this is for a child’s development. These sorts of debates have been raging on for generations (remember when we all thought video games made children violent?). The key point here is what this indicates about the future. As absurd as it might seem to some of us, the question of the metaverse is not an if—younger generations are migrating there already.

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Why the metaverse will be huge

The point we’re at now is not all that different from the world we were living in during the early 2000s. At that time, the first generation to grow up with the internet was coming of age, and they were embracing “Web 2.0” technologies with open arms. To older generations, these emerging web technologies that we now take for granted looked a little like the metaverse of today—something with little relevance to real people. But that did nothing to stop platforms like Facebook from attracting millions, and then billions of users.

Of course, as Web 2.0 evolved, it rapidly became a whole lot more than just a simple pastime. In short order, businesses realized just how deeply these technologies were being integrated into everyday life, and Web 2.0 companies became multi-billion-dollar-a-year concerns. Indeed, social media became so important that having a “social media strategy” is now such a given that not even the most traditional businesses are without one—there’s no question that failing to meet consumers where they socialize and consume media is pure folly.

Now we’re at a similar juncture in our unstoppable migration into the cloud. Younger generations are embracing metaverse experiences with open arms in much the same way as they did with Web 2.0, and, before too long, the metaverse will just become another (very important) fact of life.

This metaverse explosion will only be further exacerbated by the growing adoption of virtual reality and augmented reality technologies. With early traction already proving strong, these technologies are about to take off with the rapidly maturing hardware that’s coming onto the market now and over the next couple of years. Expect Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) much-hyped entry into the market to make an especially big splash in the coming year or two.

Getting ready for the metaverse

If we can accept that the metaverse is now a given, the natural questions that follow are those of who and how. Just as Facebook did not build the social media landscape alone, Meta will not build the metaverse alone. What will happen instead is that a variety of platforms will come onto the market, as will an entire ecosystem of satellite industries and support services.

In the social media landscape, these satellite companies and industries are household names in their own right. Think companies like Hootsuite (a social media marketing platform that generates annual revenues somewhere in the range of half a billion dollars per year) or Canva — a company whose DIY graphic design services are driven largely by the demand for a constant stream of content for highly visual social media platforms.

Of course, the metaverse will be another thing entirely, and we should expect to see a number of new companies coming onto the scene. The technological exigencies of this new landscape don’t lend themselves to existing tools and services. This includes the inevitable demand for highly and fully immersive augmented and virtual reality experiences, 3D modeling, NFTs, and cryptocurrencies, among other things.

Naturally, the message that businesses need to heed here is that old classic in the business literature cannon: adapt or die. And many already are, with names from Gucci to KFC already experienced practitioners in this new space.

As for investors, the message here is another classic, albeit a little less dramatic in its delivery.

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Inventors: if you snooze, you loose

As the metaverse message becomes clear, it’s hard for investors to ignore the opportunity that’s sitting in front of us right now. We’re right at the sweet spot, where momentum is confirming the trend. However, a lack of runaway hype (remember, there are still skeptics) is keeping valuations lower than they should be with the exception of a handful of obvious players like Snap Inc. (NYSE: SNAP).

What this is doing is leaving a small window of opportunity open where investors can snap up the companies shaping up to play a big role in the metaverse, but at bargain prices. How long this window stays open is hard to say, but we can be assured that it will be shorter-lived than what we’re used to—Covid-19 highlighted the value of tech companies in a big way, and the rapid rise in valuations we saw will eventually spill over to lesser-known metaverse companies that are currently flying under the radar.

XRApplied: the VR/AR mover and shaker you can’t afford to miss

Of these under-the-radar opportunities, one in particular that stands out is XRApplied Technologies Inc. (CSE: XRA | OTCQB: XRAPF). Recently listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange and now OTC Markets, this leader in the VR/AR for small and medium businesses space is quickly shaping up to become a heavy hitter in the metaverse ecosystem. As one of the only providers of platform-agnostic solutions that cater specifically to the enterprise metaverse space, the company’s early traction here is starting to look unstoppable.

Of particular interest here is that XRApplied has put a heavy emphasis on building open, platform-agnostic solutions. While the metaverse is an unquestionable inevitability, no single platform’s dominance in the space is. It’s still very possible that Facebook, Snap, Apple, and other big players could easily face a fate not unlike that which companies like MySpace faced in the early social media years. And, if this were the case, companies that had put all their eggs in one basket—i.e., built their metaverse assets out for one platform—run a high risk of seeing those assets fall into obsolescence quickly. XRApplied avoids this with its proprietary development platform that’s specifically built to adapt to a rapidly changing AR, VR, and metaverse landscape.

This last point can’t be overstated enough. The metaverse is still an emerging space that is potentially volatile. Platforms will come and go, meaning that companies wanting to succeed here and get an early adopter’s foothold will need to be agile and ready to adapt at a moment’s notice. This advantage is what will see XRApplied establish itself as an early household name in the metaverse, and companies wanting to join them would do well to follow its lead.

(Featured image by James Yarema via Unsplash)

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Angelique Moss is a London-based entrepreneur, writer, and traveller. The world of business, finance, and technology, is her preferred cup of tea. She also writes about the developments and discussions on health, art, luxury and media. A top writer for several Medium publications, she has published hundreds of widely read articles on investing, stocks, global markets, cannabis, and technology for multiple platforms. She is also interested in culture, history, and social affairs.