Metaverses are the new treasure trove every big tech is after
Metaverses are the new treasure trove every big tech is after, and rightly so because these 3D virtual realms are indeed the future. Built with state-of-the-art technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence, AR, and VR, metaverses unleash limitless economic possibilities for businesses.
The metaverse is now an $800 billion market, and although this saga began with Facebook, big tech companies like Microsoft, Google, Apple, and a host of others soon followed. Even chip and semiconductor manufacturers like NVIDIA and Qualcomm have joined the metaverse bandwagon.
With acquisitions and product rollouts happening now and then, this rush for the pedestal is getting even more exciting. Let's delve deeper into what each tech company is up to and how they plan to utilize their resources to build virtual universes.
In 2014, Facebook acquired Oculus VR for $2 billion US Dollars, and in 2018, Facebook’s top executives received a 50-page document titled “The Metaverse.” Later, in 2021 the social media giant rebranded itself as Meta Platforms and stated its intention to spend $10 billion on AR and VR-related hardware to develop a next-gen social media platform for its users.
According to Zuckerberg, it would take several years before the AR/VR vertical becomes profitable, even though Meta Platforms has already sold over 8 million VR headsets worldwide. Facebook users who own this device can log in with their accounts and interact with the 3D environment by accessing their favorite apps from the Oculus store.
While Facebook acquired Oculus in 2014, Google glasses were already out but not accepted due to security concerns. The search engine giant is now testing it all over again with its new prototype that comes with an in-lens display, microphone, camera, and AV sensors. Apart from the hardware, Google is also working on building an operating system for its innovative AR device, which will strengthen its position in the metaverse.
The iPhone legend focuses on creating a closed metaverse for its users and is said to be working on two hardware devices. Although very little information is available right now, there are rumors that one device would be similar to Google Glasses, while the other would compete with Facebook’s Quest 2.
In November 2021, Microsoft disclosed its plans to launch Mesh for Microsoft Teams and Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces to harness the power of metaverses. Mesh for Microsoft Teams creates a collaborative environment through personalized virtual avatars and spaces for employees to interact. It was released and tested during the pandemic to increase employee engagement.
Dynamics 365 is more intense and uses computer vision and artificial intelligence to pull actionable data from various connected spaces and utilize them to streamline processes and optimize revenues. Microsoft acquired Activision Blizzard for nearly $70 billion early this year to strengthen its position in the world of metaverses.
This acquisition provides building blocks for its metaverse and marks the company's foray into gaming. Besides software, the tech Titan has also released HoloLens, its VR glasses, and bagged a $22 billion contract to provide mixed reality solutions to the US Army.
NVIDIA is focused on being a facilitator of digital twins through its metaverse, which it refers to as the Omniverse. For this, the chipmaker partnered with Siemens and is working on an industrial metaverse that acts as a powerful engine for other businesses and provides simulation and collaboration-related solutions. The Omniverse is already being used by BMW, Ericson, Siemens Energy, and Lockheed Martin to create digital twins.
For over a decade, Qualcomm has consistently invested in AR and VR technologies, which are the core building blocks of a metaverse. Besides its existing developmental unit, Qualcomm has also dedicated $100 million through its venture capital wing to make its mark in the world of metaverses.
This allocation is called ‘Snapdragon Metaverse Fund’ and will be utilized to fund other metaverse startups. So, the approach seems to revolve around building strategic relationships with small players while focusing its existing resources on building hardware. This way, the company does not burn its resources while testing the waters in a volatile but high-potential market.
The grocery store turned electronics manufacturer is making headlines for its Space Tycoon, a gaming metaverse of three segments—resources, production, and store units. This comes right after Samsung837X, an experimental metaverse replicating Samsung’s New York Office. Space Tycoon has witnessed around 5.9 million users within a few days since the launch.
IT Titans are intensely competing for the pedestal, but it is only time that will tell us who wins the metaverse race. The stakes are high, but a lot depends on how tech companies leverage various building blocks and the market response they generate to add to their business value. There is also the possibility of interoperability between the multiple metaverses, which is another determining factor.