When we look at how new technology is taking its place in our lives, it is rarely a linear success story. Rather a bumpy track reminiscent of a typical one coming-of-age movie. At first it goes super and fast, then the obstacles fly around us, but eventually we can continue to grow and settle at an adult pace.
Same goes for technology, and we call that the hype cycle. Judging by the gigantic rounds of layoffs at Big Tech, we are in the throes of puberty. The FTX debacle has also seriously damaged confidence in NFTs and the crypto market. But that’s how we grow up; with the bruise and the bump. All the shifts and necessary reflection in the sector are proof to me that 2023 will be extremely interesting. Both for it full potential of the metaverse as of AR/VR glasses. The young gods of Silicon Valley have gotten serious. I am very curious how they will prove themselves again and convince us of their added value. Exciting times ahead!
The young gods of Silicon Valley have gotten serious. I am very curious how they will prove themselves again and convince us of their added value
Night falls on Altspace
Speaking of teenagers: Microsoft seems to be the textbook example, their strategic steps seem to go in all directions. Where they paid 69 billion for Activision last year, ‘the building blocks of the metaverse‘, they are now going to prune the hololens team and shut down Altspace. Hopla, ten thousand people on the street and full of bets on the ChatGPT hype. Calm down guys!
The attention to ChatGPT is understandable: it’s a crazy evolution within AI & language processing. But should that be at the expense of previous investments that have not yet taken root? I do not think so. The backbone ChatGPT and the metaverse are the same thing: artificial intelligence. So why should Microsoft be efforts to build the metaverse? I don’t think they do.
The attention to ChatGPT is understandable, but should it be at the expense of previous investments that have not yet taken root?
Some of their purchases seemed like oddballs. Altspace is a social VR platform where people from all over the world could meet through headsets in virtual space. Textbook metaverse. Also last year they took over Activision for just under 70 billion, making Microsoft the third largest player in the gaming market in one move. But both of those companies are consumer-oriented. Microsoft is classically one enterprise pleaserexcept with Xbox, but is now targeting that market as well, so what’s the plan anyway?
One thing is certain: there is a plan. We’re talking about Microsoft here
One thing is certain: there is a plan. We’re talking about Microsoft here. When they acquired Skype in 2011, that technology was integrated with Xbox, and since the emergence of both Teams and a certain virus whose name we can’t pronounce, Microsoft has captured a huge share of B2B communications. That’s no coincidence.
Anyone who follows Bill Gates and his colleagues a bit has already heard about Microsoft Mesh, the virtual extension of B2B communication. Virtual meetings, remote collaboration and immersive meet-ups will be heading your way in 2023. Altspace’s technology will have come in very handy in its development. Just like Skype for Teams. It’s calculated experimentation – as long as they keep it to software. Because their hardware attempts seem to be cursed. Remember the Microsoft Lumia smartphone? No? That’s what I meant.
Or in the words of ChatGPT: Yes, Microsoft has launched several mobile and smartphone devices in the past. The most notable of these is the Microsoft Lumia series, which was released from 2011 to 2016. The Lumia devices were powered by the Windows Phone operating system and had features such as a high-resolution camera, a large display, and support for various apps and games. However, Microsoft stopped producing Lumia devices in 2016 and shifted its focus to developing software for other mobile platforms, such as Android and iOS.
The black sheep called Meta
Zuckerberg is already in puberty, with an accompanying identity crisis. And he is the favorite target of the doomsayers. His choices are wrong, the initiatives are not bearing fruit and TikTok would wipe the floor with Instagram. It is a company in transition and it takes courage not only to deal with the hype of the day tech giantbut also with the Day after Tomorrow. Better gambled and lost, they say.
Since Meta’s stock soared by another $100 since November, the gods still seem to favor Zuckerberg. Or we just love watching videos of cats and fails, whether on Insta or TikTok
Since Meta’s stock soared by another $100 since November, the gods still seem to favor Zuckerberg. Or we just love watching videos of cats and fails, whether on Insta or TikTok. It’s been ten years since Zuckerberg laid the foundation stone of the metaverse when he bought Oculus. Perhaps that was also the first stone of his great right. Who’s to say? According to Gartner, we are by no means over the Peak metaverse. Just hold on Mark!
Microsoft, Meta and then the third of the holy trinity: Apple. I’m watching extra closely this year what Mr Cook does and doesn’t do. In early January, news sites headlined that Apple is in the final stages of launching a VR/AR or mixed reality headset. A product launch which can easily become as drastic as that of the iPhone. And an important step in the maturation of the metaverse.
Those headlines made me frown, because in all honesty I think the full potential of the metaverse will be years away. So I whispered softly ‘Told you sowhen a few weeks later the same sites reported that Apple is delaying its initiatives to launch AR glasses from 2025 until we-can’t-even-say-when-then. A smart, beautiful and ergonomic pair of glasses with all the features of, say, a Playstation 5 is the holy grail. And just as hard to find. Meta also announced that they will not meet the 2025 deadline. Told. You. So.
A smart, beautiful and ergonomic pair of glasses with all the features of, say, a Playstation 5 is the holy grail. And just as hard to find
Does that mean the end of AR for now? Absolutely not. The first mobile phones weren’t iPhones either, but they were wildly successful and enriched our lives. CES 2023, the high mass for consumer tech in Las Vegas, gave us a bunch of AR glasses launches. Well, each with their limitations, a limited one field of view, a cable to your smartphone,… I’m not crazy about that myself, and Apple clearly isn’t either. They only go for perfection and that’s why we like to see them. Better computing power, powerful screens and a decent battery in beautiful glasses that you really day to day can use, it will have to wait a while. But good things come to those who wait.
Hope brings life
In January yondr blew out 8 candles (#proud). When I think back to the first demos we gave, I almost blush. We then had to be at the prospect half an hour earlier to set up. The glasses had to be plugged in, the computer had to be high-end and we often left people with neck complaints. We can speak of significant progress in terms of hardware, and my prediction is that it will continue firmly in 2023. Not perfection, but progress.
The metaverse does not stand or fall with hardware, you can just as well dive into the virtual world with your smartphone or just turn on your Nintendo. And yet the arrival of those famous Apple glasses will give a huge boost to what is now mainly hype. As with all technology, sometimes we look too hard for a nail because we have a hammer. It’s time for valuable use cases, metaverse applications that enrich people’s lives. Something in which Apple has a good track record, especially when it comes to user experience and design.
It’s time for valuable use cases, metaverse applications that enrich people’s lives
Throughout all the hype cycles it is sometimes good to ask ourselves: if the metaverse is the answer, what is the question? Link? Entertainment? Curiosity? It’s the ten million question. I already know three gentlemen who have many more millions left for the answer. With yondr we enthusiastically surf along on the tech waves coming our way and personally I am very curious about Apple’s entry into the metaverse market. Some say I’m crazy, but I stubbornly believe that they will keep their glasses promise this year. Hope gives life and while laughing the fool speaks the truth.
My five cents on hardware
- At the end of February, Sony would launch the Playstation VR2.
- Apple and their now infamous headset will be released this spring. Or maybe not
- HTC drops a new headset that can already be pre-ordered: the Vive XR Elite. Unfortunately, the budget for a good name had run out
- Having to exaggerate again, Meta plans to launch four headsets between now and 2024, including a Quest 3
- Samsung couldn’t stay behind and announced at the end of January that it would launch a mixed-reality headset together with Google and Qualcomm.
And five more on software
- With Altspace dead and buried, Microsoft’s Mesh is likely to gain momentum. Think teams + gaming. What’s not to like?
- Meta (according to a good source) pumps about 10% of their 10 billion investment into Horizon Worlds, their virtual world. 30% goes to mixed reality tech and 60% to AR. Horizon Worlds is to become the virtual version of Facebook. And although Meta is still lagging behind competitor Roblox, they quickly jump on and over from the fact that only 2% of their users would onboard
- Fortnite, another competitor to Roblox, is owned by Epic Games. They own the Unreal engine, the programming language of games but also the film industry. They are planning a second version of Fortine Creative, where you can build your own games, just like with Roblox. That opens the door wide for brands to interact with all gamers who spend hours in game.