The rush that will engineer our future in the Metaverse has already started. Companies are trying to lead their way in all areas of our life including work, education, gaming, entertainment, shopping and even social interaction.
We mainly have heard about the giants entering the virtual space like Facebook, for example. The company changed its name to Meta to communicate its commitment to altering the way people connect, communicate and have fun. We can clearly applaud Meta for becoming a pioneer with its VR devices. The company sold over 1 million units from its Quest 1 device, while the sales for Quest 2 are estimated to reach 10 million units according to data from Qualcomm, the company producing the chipset for the device. We can see things only exploding from here as Mark Zuckerberg once stated that building 10 million users will lead to exponential growth afterwards.
In the next few years, Meta is planning to spend more than USD 10 billion on metaverse technology development. The company also aims to add 1 billion customers in the metaverse who would eventually purchase clothing, games and other commercial products for their digital lives.
First in Business: Microsoft
Microsoft is clearly one of the few companies with deep pockets which is ready to open them to become the first to arrive in the metaverse. The company is already heavily invested in both business tech with Microsoft office and gaming tech with Xbox.
They see their biggest opportunity in building a fully collaborative digital environment where employees can easily interact no matter where they are. Imagine a digital 3D project board through which everyone can interact and organize their tasks and progress. Imagine being able to transfer yourself in seconds from your bedroom to the boardroom. Now you can stop imaging that as you can just experience it with the technologies Microsoft has already developed and is planning to launch in 2022.
The first is expected to be Mesh for Microsoft Teams which joins the capabilities of Microsoft Mesh with Teams. It will allow people from different physical locations to participate in mixed-reality collaborative and shared hologramic work environments where everyone can work together on shared documents, according to Microsoft News. It is one of the few technologies which allows hybrid work from mobile, web and VR headsets.
We should not miss the moves Microsoft is making in gaming, too. Its plan to potentially acquire Activision Blizzard for USD 69 billion will make it the third-largest gaming company after Sony and Tencent. At the beginning, Microsoft will increase its revenue by including top games in their Game Pass. In the long term, the company’s CEO Satya Nadella believes that the metaverse is going to be as transformative as the internet was and expects that in the future people and businesses would have the opportunity to build their own metaverses as in the past they built websites.
Microsoft will slowly transition the games it has acquired to metaverse experiences as further technological development in the space is necessary. In the meantime, three of the company’s main gaming franchises, Minecraft, Flight Simulator and Halo, added metaverse experiences.
Google is also trying to find its place in the metaverse. The company was one of the first to offer virtual reality (VR) products including Google Glass and Google Cardboard. Google Cardboard was affordable and helped many people for the first time to experience the metaverse. However, both products weren’t accepted well enough and had to be discontinued.
Google has shown persistence in trying to build hardware for the metaverse by acquiring North, the company behind smartglasses Focals, for USD 180 million as well as by further developing Google Glass for internal use and potentially for enterprise use. It is interesting to see the product they will release after the lessons they have learned from the first generation of VR products they offered.
Tencent and Alibaba
We should keep our eyes open for Asia, too, as companies like Tencent and Alibaba are planning their own move in the metaverse. Tencent will work on developing its own metaverse experience through Tencent Games, the division responsible for the company’s game development.
At the same time, Alibaba has invested over USD 1 billion into AR and VR-related start-ups over the past years. One of the main areas on which the Chinese giant is working on the release of augmented reality (AR) glasses to be used in virtual meetings on Alibaba’s app DinkTalk. DinkTalk has more than 500 million users and launched its first AR glasses back in 2020 in partnership with AR start-up Nrea.