This week’s news mainly deals with the repercussions of last week’s two momentous events – the launch of Apple’s Virtual Reality (VR)headset and the SEC’s crypto crackdown.
On the first item, Apple’s entrance into the VR market is set to shake up the industry and could potentially accelerate the growth of the metaverse. First and foremost, Apple’s entry into the VR market brings with it an increased level of credibility and mainstream acceptance, including for its rival Meta.
On the second, JPMorgan released a report arguing that the SEC’s lawsuits against Binance and Coinbase highlight the need for U.S. lawmakers to develop “a comprehensive framework to regulate the crypto industries. Meanwhile, Hong Kong legislator Johnny Ng has invited Coinbase and other crypto exchanges to establish official operations in the city-state amid hostility from US regulators. Andreessen Horowitz, a leading tech investment firm, has backed the UK’s approach to crypto regulation as it announced plans to open a London office that will be its first outside the US.
These two sets of developments are significant. Despite the headset’s price points, the reaction to Apple's announcement shows that the industry’s hardware progress is the key to securing credibility amongst investors and skeptics. The reaction to the SEC’s crackdown shows the need for transparent regulation and the cost of seeming unfriendly to crypto. As countries compete for talent, those who offer friendly regulatory environments will outcompete those who do not, even if regulations may make the sector safer and more investable in the long run.
The bottom line: The announcement of Apple’s VR headset, set to be unveiled at the upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference, has sent ripples through the VR and metaverse industries. As one of the world’s most valuable companies and with a loyal following of customers, Apple’s entrance into the VR market is set to shake up the industry and could potentially accelerate the growth of the metaverse. First and foremost, Apple’s entry into the VR market brings with it an increased level of credibility and mainstream acceptance, including for its rival Meta.
The bottom line: Apple shied away from ever using the term metaverse in their reveal. That might be due to the Meta QuestPro, the headset launched last year by rival tech giant Meta–formerly known as Facebook. But that’s fine, said Sandbox COO Sebastien Borget. “It’s not competing with the metaverse, but rather one new device that we can use to discover the concept,” he said. He added that they are not building the metaverse “per se” but rather creating the technology to facilitate it and make it more broadly available.
The bottom line: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)’s lawsuits against Binance and Coinbase highlight the need for U.S. lawmakers to come up with “a comprehensive framework on how to regulate the crypto industries and the relative responsibilities of SEC vs. the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC),” JPMorgan said in a Thursday research report. This isn't a “straightforward legal case,” and it is unclear which cryptocurrencies would be classified as securities, analysts led by Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou wrote.
The bottom line: Robinhood Markets said it is removing three cryptocurrency tokens from its platform on Friday, days after the U.S. securities regulator's crackdown against the industry's biggest exchanges. Customers will not be able to trade Solana, Cardano, or Polygon using Robinhood effective June 27, the online brokerage said.
The bottom line: Hong Kong legislator Johnny Ng has invited Coinbase and other crypto exchanges to establish official operations in the city-state amid hostility from US regulators. “I hereby offer an invitation to welcome all global virtual asset trading operators, including Coinbase to come to [Hong Kong] for application of official trading platforms and further development plans,” Ng tweeted. “Please feel free to approach me, and I am happy to provide any assistance.”
The bottom line: A leading US tech investment firm that counts Facebook and Twitter among its successful bets has backed the UK’s approach to crypto regulation as it announced plans to open a London office that will be its first outside the US. California-based Andreessen Horowitz said Britain was on “the right path to becoming a leader in crypto regulation”. The venture capital firm’s new office will open later this year and will be dedicated to investing in crypto and tech startups in the UK and Europe.
The bottom line: The latest McKinsey Metaverse Consumer Survey finds that while many metaverse initiatives push the boundaries of technology, they often miss the mark with consumers (see sidebar, “About our research”). In fact, winning in the metaverse is often about meeting more mundane needs: providing consumers with value-added products and services they can use today, either separately or in combination with the physical world.
The bottom line: Online virtual worlds such as Decentraland, Spatial and Roblox are coming together to host Metaverse Beauty Week next week. Taking place from June 12 to June 17, this inaugural event promises to be a celebration of beauty and creativity in the metaverse. The team at creative agency CULT will be working in partnership with global beauty brands and connecting them with digital designers to shake up the virtual beauty industry. Some of beauty week’s largest sponsors include international brands such as LUSH and Neutrogena.
The bottom line: On 14 November 2006, 5,000 IBM employees assembled in a digital recreation of the 15th-century Chinese imperial palace known as the Forbidden City. They had come to hear IBM’s CEO, Sam Palmisano, deliver a speech. Palmisano’s physical body was in Beijing at the time, but he addressed most of his audience inside Second Life, the online social world that had launched three years earlier. This experiment was the precursor to the metaverse as we know it.
The bottom line: Patients can access a virtual reality medical setting that focuses on physical therapy treatments using just a headset. Providing healing surroundings will create a calming space for the patient and encourage control over physiological responses. Surgeries can also become more advanced with the metaverse. Reconstructive surgeries, which are complicated and intense procedures, with the help of a virtual avatar, could help accurately predict the surgery’s outcome. Simulation tools can be more accurately built as well.