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Facebook's 'Meta' move boosts tech firms

By FAN FEIFEI | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-10-30 07:03
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Small toy figures are seen in front of displayed Facebook's new rebrand logo Meta in this illustration taken, October 28, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

Stocks of metaverse-related companies in the A-share market soared dramatically after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on Thursday that the social media giant will change its parent company's name to "Meta", based on metaverse, to describe its vision for working and playing in a virtual world.

The term metaverse, as one of the hottest tech buzzwords, was coined by US science fiction writer Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel Snow Crash, which was set in a near future where the virtual world and the physical world are inextricably interconnected.

Shares of online gaming provider Shenzhen Zqgame Network Co Ltd surged by the daily limit of 20 percent on Friday, while Zhejiang Jinke Tom Cultural Industry Co Ltd, the company operating the Talking Tom Cat app, saw its share price skyrocket by 14.8 percent to close at 4.41 yuan ($0.69) on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.

Experts said there is still a long way to go to realize the vision of a metaverse, as the supporting technologies, application scenarios and business models are far from mature. The development of the metaverse will have an impact on six key areas-social connectivity, work, entertainment, shopping, education and the digital economy, according to global marketing consultancy IDC.

"The metaverse has the potential to change the way we live and become the next digital phenomenon. Although the era of the metaverse is still years away, businesses should partner with game developers and hardware vendors to start building the ecosystem and plan for new online service models for the upcoming virtual worlds before it is too late," said Liao Yexi, a research analyst at IDC Asia/Pacific.

A batch of Chinese companies are jumping on the metaverse bandwagon, and combining metaverse elements into the research and development of game products.

"The so-called metaverse refers to creating an immersive virtual space in which users could enjoy interactive experiences such as cultural, social and entertainment activities," said Chang Qing, chief strategist of Beijing Compass Technology Development Co Ltd, a provider of professional financial data analysis and securities investment advisory services.

However, at present, the application scenarios and profit models of the metaverse are not clear, Chang said, suggesting that investors should make rational decisions and remain cautious about the potential risks of blind speculation in the stock market.

Both virtual reality and augmented reality technologies are vital components to create a sense of virtual presence in the metaverse. Global accounting firm PwC predicted that VR and AR technologies will deliver a $1.5 trillion boost to the global economy by 2030, compared with $46.5 billion in 2019.

Wang Peng, an associate professor at the Hillhouse Research Institute at Renmin University of China, said the global digital transformation and the advancement of cutting-edge technologies, such as virtual reality, cloud computing, big data and artificial intelligence have played a critical role in promoting a vision of the metaverse.

He said the metaverse might be overhyped, as the concept is still in its infancy. He added that more efforts should be made to invest resources and capital in the research and development of hardware, equipment, content and to improve the overall technological level.

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