David Jones, CEO of The Brandtech Group (FKA You and Mr Jones), has written a thought-provoking piece about the future of the metaverse. Make no mistake about it, having been an early in investor in Pokemon Go developer Niantic, he’s a believer.
Jones likens the future impact of the metaverse to the way Apple’s iPhone has rocked our world over the past decade and a half.
“The reason the iPhone changed the world was the ecosystem that grew around it,” he writes. “The iPhone itself was just a phone with a camera and an iPod built in.” But the ensuing ecosystem included everything from Google Maps to Uber to Airbnb to YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, “to the ability to do pretty much whatever you wanted from booking flights, rooms, restaurants to buying anything you wanted. All in your pocket, at any time, wherever you were.”
Somewhat ironically — and Apple might have a thought or two about this — Jones asserts the hardware driving the metaverse will be glasses, not phones. I guess Google was a bit ahead of its time.
The glasses that Jones envisions will “allow you to do AR, VR or just plain reality. It’s going to take a while for these to be fully functional, but if and when they are, it’s likely that we’ll see the death of the mobile phone. And also likely we’ll look back and think it odd we had to totally monopolize the use of one of our hands for our phones, in much the same way as it now seems odd there was only one phone in a house that was attached to the wall by a wire and that everyone in the house used the same phone and had the same number.”
But don’t glasses seem so 2015? Why not contacts?
Jones has given this some thought, concluding most humans are simply more comfortable with the concept of glasses and that for many of us, the thought of placing something on our eyeballs is just plain icky. And where would the battery go?
There is some debate over the practicality of virtual products, and what role they’ll play in the metaverse going forward. Per Jones, it’s a big one. He cites estimates that the virtual goods market could be worth $189 billion in three years, and he believes it could be a lot more.
He cites Nike’s recent purchase of virtual sneaker maker RTFKT, which he likens to Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram a few years back. For many, FB’s payment of $1 billion for a startup was a head scratcher, although now, many see it as the deal of the century. One day, he posits, it’s not implausible that RTFKT will be worth more than Nike. “Or at the very least, play the critical role that Instagram has played for Meta.”
Jones also expounds on the idea that the metaverse will “turbocharge” brand purpose. Younger generations, he notes, won’t buy brands or work for companies that don’t have a purpose beyond profit.
As for the future of marketing, it will lie at the intersection of real world, social media and the virtual world, he concludes. Checkout his full “founder’s letter” here.
I miss my phone already.