This week, we begin with a simple question: Is the metaverse dead? Some pundits certainly seem to think so, and have published articles in Business Insider or The Guardian arguing as much. Yet these dramatic pronouncements severely overstate the case. First, there are 600 million monthly active users in Fortnite, Minecraft, Roblox, PUBG Mobile, Sandbox, and VRChat. Second, large companies such as Decentraland, Unity, and NVIDIA continue to invest millions, if not billions into capturing metaverse-related market share. In fact, this week, Google released a major metaverse-related innovation: Geospatial Creator. This tool allows immersive content to be visualized, created, and published directly in minutes, democratizing access to augmented reality. In short, while pundits opine on the death of the metaverse, large corporations are building the metaverse behind the scenes. Still, these “death of the metaverse” articles do capture one real trend: generic metaverses aimed at a global audience did not work (Meta's Horizon), but specialized metaverses do work (gaming, industrial applications, retail, scientific research, government, education, etc.). The future of the metaverse, then, might remain specialized and not generic, at least in the short run. We are very early in the development of the Metaverse and it will continue to grow.
The bottom line: The Metaverse, the once-buzzy technology that promised to allow users to hang out awkwardly in a disorientating video-game-like world, has died after being abandoned by the business world. The Metaverse is now headed to the tech industry's graveyard of failed ideas. But the short life and ignominious death of the Metaverse offers a glaring indictment of the tech industry that birthed it.
The bottom line: While AI continues to dominate headlines and the metaverse has seemingly been sidelined, it’s important to note that the metaverse is still as relevant as ever. The race is on as large enterprises such as NVIDIA and Unity are investing heavily to lay the foundational infrastructure, while Roblox, Decentraland, and Sandbox are jockeying to be the preferred portal, and Web3 studios such as Touchcast and TerraZero are working with leading brands to expand their market share.
The bottom line: Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney is just as optimistic about the metaverse as ever, after poking fun at a recent suggestion that online virtual worlds are “dead.” “The metaverse is dead! Let’s organize an online wake so that we 600,000,000 monthly active users in Fortnite, Minecraft, Roblox, PUBG Mobile, Sandbox, and VRChat can mourn its passing together in real-time 3D,” he joked, which was echoed soon after by Sandbox CEO Sebastien Borget.
The bottom line: Bernard Arnault, CEO of luxury conglomerate LVMH, has a private non-fungible token (NFT) collection despite his public displays of skepticism toward the digital asset. Arnault, the world’s richest person with a net worth of $204 billion, joins the ranks of other billionaires who have built collections of the digital artwork, such as investor and Shark Tank judge Mark Cuban and Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, who co-founded crypto exchange Gemini.
The bottom line: A new blockchain network aimed at financial institutions is in the works from a conglomerate of participants in the finance and tech space, including the likes of Microsoft and Goldman Sachs. According to the announcement on May 9, the Canton Network will be a privacy-enabled interoperable blockchain network aimed at those working with institutional assets. It will allow the synchronization of financial markets that were “previously siloed.”
The bottom line: Google has unveiled its new AR platform, Geospatial Creator. It’s a tool that allows immersive content to be visualized, created, and published directly in minutes. In a view similar to Google Earth or Google Street View, developers and creators can use Geospatial Creator to create their 3D maps and enrich them with augmented reality elements. For example, they can insert buildings, landscapes, objects, and figures into the maps and enhance them with animations, sounds, and interaction options.
The bottom line: A rare hearing between two committees in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday is the latest sign of growing momentum for digital asset legislation. The House Agriculture and Financial Services Committees will hear testimony on regulatory gaps for digital assets in the U.S., with an eye towards creating new law explicitly for governing trading platforms and stablecoins. The unusual collaboration comes as policymakers try to put action to broad consensus that more rules are needed for crypto and stablecoin companies in the U.S.
The bottom line: More revealing than this latest interview are some of the things that Tim Cook has said about AR, in particular about its role in “creative” applications and corporate environments.” Cook doesn’t want to remove people from the physical world. He and Apple would rather enhance the way we learn, interact, and create through augmented reality. That means making a tool that lets you do even more in the physical world, instead of another screen to look at.
The bottom line: The future of the blockchain is one in which the next billion crypto users won’t hold bitcoin, ether or any other fungible tokens. They’ll use fiat to purchase goods and services, and that fiat might be exchanged for tokens somewhere on the back end. Put simply, the blockchain is going to become infrastructure. Just as no one really talks about “the cloud” anymore, we won’t talk about “the blockchain” either. We won’t need to know or care which blockchain our purchases are stored on.
The bottom line: The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) plans to open its first virtual office in the Bitkub Metaverse in the third quarter of this year, in a bid to attract millennials and foreign tourists to bolster Thailand's digital economy. Nithee Seeprae, TAT deputy governor for digital research and development, said the project is expected to lure younger tourists, who account for 25-30% of total arrivals, as they have digital-oriented lifestyles such as playing games and collecting digital assets.