With recent patent filings by Walmart (WMT) suggesting that the major retailer may be joining the likes of Meta (FB) and Apple (AAPL) in embarking on a foray into metaverse technology, more consumers are now asking how they can access the virtual space themselves. According to CoinDesk Global Macro Editor TV Anchor Emily Parker, many obstacles remain for average consumers to access the metaverse.
“First of all, the metaverse right now, for a lot of the average users, is not that easy to access,” Parker told Yahoo Finance Live. “The barrier to entry is rather high. So having these larger established players coming in could create more of a mainstream experience. It could open it up to more users.”
Parker joined Yahoo Finance Live to discuss crypto regulation, Walmart exploring metaverse technology, and the outlook for China's digital Yuan adoption.
Metaverse is an umbrella term used to describe shared virtual world environments that can be accessed through the usage of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) devices. And while many modern smartphones have limited VR and AR capabilities, Apple’s VR/AR headset, for example, is expected to cost at least $2,000.
Not all VR/AR devices will run consumers that pretty of a penny, however, with Meta’s Oculus Quest 2 costing $299 and $399 for the 128 GB and 256 GB versions, respectively. Nevertheless, cost and consumer awareness may pose challenges for increased adoption of the metaverse by potential everyday users.
Corporations adopting metaverse technology
In regard to Walmart’s move into the metaverse, Parker said that how exactly the big box retailer may leverage the technology of the virtual environment still remains up in the air. She believes that Walmart entering the NFT space represents a "digitization of products" for the company while offering its customers a different type of experience.
Yahoo Finance reached out to Walmart for comment on what the company's recent patent filings mean for the future of the retailer.
"Walmart is continuously exploring how emerging technologies may shape future shopping experiences," a Walmart spokesperson told Yahoo Finance. "We don’t have anything further to share today, but it’s worth noting we routinely file trademark applications as part of the innovation process."
Parker also cited Microsoft’s (MSFT) recent $70 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard (ATVI) as being another major “metaverse play” in the market, along with moves by Nike (NKE) and Adidas (ADDYY). However, she warned that large corporations entering the space may pose a threat to one of the core tenets of the metaverse — decentralization.
“We could see the danger of monopolization of the space that's supposed to be decentralized and revolutionary by these big corporations, similar to what we saw in the social media space,” she said. “So I think [more companies pursuing the metaverse is] possibly a good development, but there are some dangers as well.”
Thomas Hum is a writer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @thomashumTV