Telefónica has already missed the WhatsApp train. Now he doesn’t want the same thing to happen to him with the Metaverse

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Telefónica has taken advantage of the MWC 2022 and specifically the entrepreneurship event parallel to this fair, Four Years From Nowto announce that look for startups from anywhere in the world that present metaverse use casessince it has closed an agreement with Meta to “jointly expand and explore the technologies of the metaverse” as explained by Chema Alonso, CDO of Telefónica.

Thus, it has advertised under the name open2metaverse that any startup that offers technologies “with metaverse applications” will be able to connect with Telefónica through Wayra, its accelerator, which will focus on use cases around connectivity, devices, virtual platforms, identity tools, NFTs and marketplaces. Once selected, the startups it hosts will also receive technical and infrastructure support, access to its community and the company’s innovation ecosystem and global scale.

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In construction

This early announcement, when Meta has barely given a few brushstrokes about what its metaverse will be and there are many more unknowns than certainties, not surprising either. On the one hand, because Telefónica has not announced a specific scenario, such as a service that it is going to offer in something for which there is hardly anything built; but precisely a call to startups with which to ally and jointly build that metaverse, according to Meta through.

Telecoms have been relegated to infrastructure providers in many of the services that are essential in our lives, such as WhatsApp or Spotify. They don’t want the same thing to happen to them with the metaverse.

On the other hand, because arriving too soon is preferable to arriving late, and given what happened with WhatsApp, it is better not to take risks. Not necessarily the WhatsApp application itself, but the concept of letting a platform replace the services offered by the telecom and ending up reduced to the role of commodities and a little more. The operators are not comfortable in that role and hence their persistent proposal to “offer value”, in the form of content (precisely Movistar has increased its television offer with sports, original productions and embedded third-party platforms) or alliances with alarms for home or health insurance. Something similar to services like Movistar Música, launched more than ten years after Spotify. Precisely Álvarez-Pallete, president of Telefónica, took the opportunity to get chest of the value of the investment in infrastructure a day before this announcement.

With WhatsApp, the operators lost control of the messaging sent between their clients in favor of a foreign company that ended up in the hands of Facebook. There were bets like Joyn and Tu Me that simply failed because they were late and wrong. In line with Joyn, the RCS standard also arrived as an evolution of SMS, but the lack of support from Apple and some limitations that did not necessarily make it better than the almighty WhatsApp make it remain insignificant.

At the opposite extreme, banking, which, thanks to a good well-executed idea and perhaps also to regulations and controls that made it difficult for strangers to disembark, managed to prevent the big technology companies from eating its digital toast. We are talking about Bizum, which has established itself in Spain without Apple, Google or Facebook solutions for payments between individuals overshadowing it.

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Telefónica wants its outcome for when the metaverse arrives, or the metaverses (although its agreement is with Meta), is more like Bizum’s than Tu Me’s, precisely because arriving early and opening up to third parties, to startups that help define what that metaverse will be like, what we will do in it, what technologies will shape it and what it will look like if it achieves critical mass that gives meaning to the investments that will begin to be made around it. In other words, to be able to be a relevant actor in it, and not, as is the case with WhatsApp, Spotify or other services that have become essential in our lives, limiting itself to being the one who provides the infrastructure without control or prestige for what circulate in them. A role that contrasts, at least from the outside, with what happens with giants like Google, much more prudent; or Apple, which has barely made a few comments about it. Time will tell.

At the moment they already have a website dedicated to the metaverse in which they offer to take a virtual walk in the recreation of the booth of the company at MWC 2022. Something that is nothing more than a 360º view in a browser of an environment created for virtual reality, something that has been done for years without the need for Facebook to give it a name. Precisely to level up they have made this announcement.

Telefónica has taken advantage of the MWC 2022 and specifically the entrepreneurship event parallel to this fair, Four Years From…

Telefónica has taken advantage of the MWC 2022 and specifically the entrepreneurship event parallel to this fair, Four Years From…

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