Competitive Metaverse – What is the Metaverse? – Lexology

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Before we will start to analyze the competition in and around the metaverse, we have to understand what the „metaverse“ is.
The metaverse today and in the future
So, what is the “metaverse” exactly? The metaverse is a digital and virtual reality. It is not a specific place or a website, but a concept of a “4D-Internet”. Within the metaverse, we will experience the internet with almost all senses. The hardware devices to travel to the metaverse are virtual reality (VR) headsets. Via the VR headset, users are able to meet friends, do sports, play games or have business meetings as avatars (virtual persons). The metaverse is the connection of the internet as we know it today and the emerging VR technology.
At this date, the metaverse is far away from being (virtual) reality for everyone. However, we can give you at least a snapshot of what the VR-internet looks like right now. Our colleagues from Taylor Wessing have already illustrated the metaverse comprehensively on our website here, here and here.
The biggest player in the metaverse at the moment is obviously Meta Platforms. Meta provides the software (for example the Quest Store) as well as the hardware (via its subsidiary Oculus). Additionally, some companies (for example Unilever or Deutsche Telekom) are investing a lot of money already today.
In 2022, the metaverse is just taking shape. Prof Dr Friedrich Wenzel Bulst from the European Commission characterizes the metaverse as “a buzzword, a vision of the future, a new version of the internet, and perhaps most of all a concept around which there are still a number of question marks.” From our point of view, this is a good description, as it is not clear where the metaverse is heading in the future (as already mentioned in the first article).
It is also not clear whether Meta will keep its first mover advantage. The tech companies Microsoft and Apple (as well as others) are developing hardware and software for the metaverse on their own and will be strong competitors of Meta. Whenever we use the term "metaverse" in this blog, we do not refer to Mark Zuckerberg's Metaverse only, but to all existing and competing metaverses (e.g. Decentralland) and the idea of the metaverse in general.
The next step
From now on we will start to look into competition law and regulation in the metaverse. As mentioned above, the hardware is crucial to travel to the metaverse. Because of this, in our next article we will have a look at Metas subsidiary Oculus and why the Germany Competition Authority was the reason why we could not buy Oculus VR headsets in Germany.
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