shopping like in 1990 … are you kidding?

Mark Zuckerberg and his avatar announced a few months ago that the Facebook group would now be called Meta – to better embody its next big moult: the passage to the Metavers. The idea is to offer a universe in virtual and augmented reality in which physically very distant people can meet, play, buy and consume various and varied content and services.

The news has been met with some reservations – some companies like Microsoft, and we’ll see Wallmart, are super excited and really see this as the future whether it’s in e-commerce or the organization of work. Others recall the many scandals in which Facebook has gotten wet in the past and its unreasonable use of personal data. Finally, there is also Elon Musk who pretends not to understand.

The Metavers demo of Wallmart shows the big limits of this universe in virtual reality

And we have to say that the more we learn about the Metaverse, the more we agree with it. For Elon Musk, indeed, the Metaverse is “More marketing than reality” – he who adds, not without a touch of irony, “I do not understand anything”. And the entrepreneur goes on to suggest that he is undoubtedly “too old” to understand this “revolution”. He who in 1995 was nevertheless well placed to understand the direction in which the internet would go.

For Elon Musk, the Metaverse lacks real utility, especially since it does not really provide a satisfactory user experience: “For sure you can put a TV on your nose. I’m not sure that puts you ‘in the Metaverse’. I really don’t see anyone putting a damn screen on their face all day and putting up with it without wanting to leave. For me it is out of the question. So far I don’t see any situation in which the metaverse would appeal to me ”.

It must be said that for the moment, the Metavers, it is mainly branding, some announcements, and demonstrations of some spaces in VR. But some big brands are also starting to show what the “transformation” of the customer experience could look like in the Metavers. Example with Wallmart. The supermarket chain took advantage of the SXSW event to unveil its vision of shopping in Métavers:

To be quite frank, it reminds us more of a soothing game around the supermarket world than anything really “wow”. The innovation, according to Wallmart, is to recreate its supermarkets identically, shopping cart included. All with an assistant who appears without being ringed and who reminds us a little of the virtual assistant of the AMELI site (which instead of simplifying the experience complicates everything…).

In short, what is the added value of this kind of experience? We can easily imagine that elderly people, in particular, will appreciate being able to return to the supermarket, without having to leave their homes. However, there is still a lot of links to really attract seniors to virtual reality headsets and Facebook’s Metaverse (sorry, Meta). Especially since virtual reality is not for everyone. Sensitive people of all ages can experience nausea and headaches – especially if they are prone to motion sickness. In addition, for the rest of the potential customers of Wallmart on the Metavers, the interest seems to be dotted.

When shopping online, in fact, why choose an experience inferior to, for example, a classic website, well organized, tidy, and on which you can easily consult at any time what is in your basket? Who is going to buy a virtual reality headset for this? This does not seem to make any sense, and one therefore wonders if there is not a gap between the revolution described by its promoters, and the reality of the concept of Metavers for users. Note that Microsoft also believes very strongly in Metaverse – and is developing a similar project (the video is in English but subtitles are available):

The tone of the project, at Microsoft, is nevertheless clearly more oriented towards the business and professional world. Microsoft seems to see the Metaverse as a way to turn meetings into video conferencing – in an era marked by rapid growth in telecommuting. The other types of experiences seem only peripheral possibilities in Microsoft’s view. The company mentions among other things the participation in online concerts, for example, but not really (yet) to consume like Wallmart.

The Metaverse is as useless as it is questionable from an ecological point of view

And then there is one last aspect that is increasingly difficult to overlook. In 2022, everything we do, on a large scale, must take ecology into account in one way or another. We already know according to an estimate from Intel that the Metavers will require “To multiply by 1000 the efficiency of our best current machines”. However, for the time being, according to an estimate dating from 2021, each Facebook account emits around 12 g of CO2 per year.

Note also that Facebook has greatly improved the situation since no later than 2016, emissions were more of the order of 300g per user per year (multiply that by the 2.85 billion Facebook accounts and it quickly becomes monstrous…). To carry out its project, Facebook and other players will have to acquire new capacities in data centers, which will involve the manufacture of new equipment – in addition to constantly mobilizing additional energy resources.

One of two things, if indeed the Metaverse has an interest, why not. But if Facebook actually fails to convince that it is the next great revolution of the web, the firm is certainly exposed to new criticism … Of course, this is our opinion in this mood post. But we are very curious to know what you think about it. Let’s continue the conversation in the comments of this article!


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