The metaverse has shifted from hype to crisis in 2022. But the trend towards a more virtual economy is irreversible. In the coming year, we look forward to a new wave of, among other things, hardware.
Every new technology at some point goes through a phase of excessive euphoria, which then turns to disappointment because reality fails to live up to the high expectations. This so-called ‘hype cycle’, a concept coined by market researcher Gartner, was perfectly applicable to the metaverse last year. What’s more, no previous technology has ever crossed that curve so quickly, says Nick Decrock of specialist agency 49/META.
In the first half of 2022, the idea of virtual and blended worlds was still prominent in the media and in the investment plans of executives and marketers. Although most cryptocurrencies were already experiencing a decline, Digital Certificates of Ownership or NFTs were still paid insane amounts and the lots in virtual worlds sold for millions of dollars.
- The metaverse – the mix of physical and digital experiences built with blockchains and immersive technology – went from hype to crisis at lightning speed.
- Experts now expect a phase of quiet growth where companies build applications with real added value for their brand and customers.
- That phase will be aided by a range of new glasses and headsets.
- Apple is also expected to finally enter the metaverse in 2023.
A few months later, little of that hype remains. Crypto is mentioned today in the same breath as fraud. NFT issuance has collapsed by nearly 80 percent since the summer. The Metaverse became one of the biggest victims of the tech crisis on Wall Street. With the dramatic price drop on Meta as exponent
the parent company of, among other things, Facebook and Instagram, has made the metaverse its new raison d’être.
After hype and disappointment usually follows a phase of realistic growth, according to Gartner, which the metaverse identifies as one of the ten major technology trends for 2023. For Decrock, the steep decline also has a silver lining: “The pure speculation has gone out very quickly and leaving behind the valuable essence.” He sees the development of the metaverse continuing at a rapid pace in concrete projects with real economic added value.
“You see the big Fortune 500 companies all experimenting with NFT and Web3 applications based on a philosophy of decentralization,” says Decrock. With the new digital technology, they can create hybrids of physical and digital experiences, engage their customers much more closely and build an economic ecosystem around their brand. ‘The coffee chain Starbucks uses blockchain for a loyalty system. The customers do not save points, but receive digital tokens with which they can also pay at a large number of partner companies.’
Other brands are experimenting with virtual equivalents of their familiar products. The car manufacturer Porsche is giving fans the opportunity to redesign its iconic Porsche 911 in 3D. The sports car manufacturer gives the brand back to the fans, so to speak.’ We will also see more and more such co-creation projects, predicts Decrock. ‘The only obstacle is that there is still a lack of good hardware to make these applications available to everyone.’
But 2023 could also be a decisive year there. ‘On the hardware front, it will be an exciting year as several companies will launch new headsets’, says Pieter Van Leugenhagen from Yondr, an agency specializing in ‘immersive media’.
The industry’s “iPhone moment” has been long overdue: Apple’s launch of a device so easy to use and intuitive that it takes the entire market to another level. Will 2023 be the year of that Apple headset? This is the opinion of the renowned Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a close eye on the company’s Asian sub-suppliers. Although he recently announced that the launch was delayed from spring to fall due to software issues.
However, we don’t have to wait that long for new toys. Van Leugenhagen is looking forward to the CES tech show at the end of next week in Las Vegas. HTC will present a compact and lightweight headset suitable for virtual reality and ‘phygital’ experiences (a mix of virtual and real). Other major announcements cannot be ruled out. ‘We haven’t seen anything new from Samsung for a long time, but I can’t imagine it has disappeared from the market,’ says Van Leugenhagen.
A month after CES, Sony comes with its PlayStation VR2, a VR headset for users of its game console PlayStation. The market leader in VR hardware, Meta Platforms, will not sit still either. Last October, Mark Zuckerberg’s company already launched Meta Quest Pro, virtual and mixed reality glasses for professional applications. In the coming year, after three years, there will be a sequel to the Quest 2, its VR glasses for consumers and gamers.
Apps and Services
Of course, good apps and services are also needed to sell those glasses and headsets. Van Leugenhagen expects Meta to also launch its metaverse app Horizon Worlds in our country in 2023. And if Apple comes with glasses, it will undoubtedly be accompanied by innovative applications.
In the business market, we are waiting for the first fruits of the collaboration between Microsoft, Meta and Accenture, which was announced a few months ago. Decrock and Van Leugenhagen see great demand for solutions to meet virtually with larger groups. “Microsoft Teams is not suitable for that.”