While technology companies have been pursuing independent development of offerings for the Metaverse, the partnership between Microsoft and Meta has now made headlines – but is this a development we will see in the future? A text by Luisa Schmolke from the ERGO Innovation Lab.
The strategic focus on the Metaverse has not changed at Facebook's parent company, Meta, despite declining stock market value and sceptical voices from customers and analysts.
Mark Zuckerberg recently presented new hardware, the “Meta Quest Pro” VR headset, at Meta Connect. In addition to the improved design, it enables use in “Mixed Reality” for the first time and thus the integration of real objects into the virtual world. Facial expressions and gestures are also captured by the new VR headset and can be transferred to the avatars to make social interactions more realistic.
But while sales of the VR headsets have so far fallen short of expectations, further opportunities are opening up for consumers to now use the Metaverse without VR devices via laptop, computer, smartphone or tablet.
The idea behind this is to minimise the barriers to use and thus provide potential users with an initial (convincing) experience in order to then turn them into long-term users via hardware. Network effects are key for the metaverse to generate further incentives for partners and thus further scale the virtual worlds, opportunities and experiences in the metaverse.
While hardware development was initially a big focus for Meta, it has now realised the importance of partnerships for an attractive ecosystem: For 3D design, for example, Meta partnered with Adobe to allow designers to use Adobe products to create virtual spaces.
For business, the cooperation with competitor Microsoft recently made headlines. Applications such as Microsoft Teams are integrated into Meta's Horizon Workrooms, and popular Microsoft 365 products such as Word, Outlook and Excel can also be used in the Metaverse. This should contribute to an increase in the number of users in the Metaverse, as this partnership alone allows the 270 million monthly active users of Microsoft Teams to hold meetings in virtual space and to work together with team members in mixed reality and virtual reality.
In gaming, Microsoft is also making various games available for streaming through Metas Quest in the Metaverse with its Xbox Cloud Gaming service.
The trend towards partnerships is very likely to continue over the coming months and years. Partnerships offer the great advantage of quickly expanding the offering to users, making the Metaverse more attractive through a larger ecosystem. The expectations are clearly defined: More partners and thus more possible uses should result in more users, who will then make the Metaverse more attractive again for the partners. A bet whose outcome will be revealed in the coming months and years.
It is also important to observe whether partnerships and network effects will continue to be relied on in the future, or whether these will disintegrate after the ecosystem has been expanded and a platform economy will develop as in Web 2.0.
Text: Luisa Schmolke