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It’s time to put on your (virtual) thinking caps as we delve into the wild, wonderful, and sometimes wacky world of the metaverse. Just when we thought the metaverse frenzy had faded into the digital sunset, along comes Apple, the world’s most valuable company, ready to breathe new life into this futuristic fantasy.
The Metaverse: A Brief History of Hype and Hope
Let’s rewind to 2021. Remember when Facebook, in a fit of identity crisis, rebranded itself to Meta? The tech giant hoped to lead us into a brave new world – the metaverse. But alas, it seems that the public wasn’t quite ready to follow Mark Zuckerberg into his vision of a virtual utopia.
Fast forward to now. Interest in the metaverse has waned, and companies like Microsoft and Disney have quietly packed up their virtual reality dreams and turned off the lights on their metaverse projects.
Apple’s Vision Check: A New Era or Just New Eyewear?
Enter Apple. The Cupertino-based tech titan has announced its new mixed-reality headset, dubbed the Vision Pro. This device has supposedly been in the works for a whopping seven years, and Apple is now ready to unveil it to the world. The Vision Pro is expected to fuse augmented and virtual reality into a single device and is rumoured to sport a price tag of around $3,000. Oh, Apple, ever the master of understatement.
This is Apple’s first major new product in nearly a decade, and the company has tantalizingly declared that “a new era” is about to begin. Apple CEO Tim Cook has even been quoted saying, “In the future, you’ll wonder how you led your life without augmented reality”. Well, Tim, right now, we’re just wondering how we’ll afford this new piece of tech!
Apple’s WWDC 2023: Coding New Worlds or Old Hype?
Apple’s theme for this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is “Code new worlds”. But before we get too excited, let’s remember that this is the same company that once convinced us we needed a $1,000 stand for our computer monitor.
Apple’s move into the metaverse is expected to reignite interest in this digital frontier. But, in a twist that could only come from Apple, don’t expect them to use the term “metaverse”. Apparently, Tim Cook believes the word is too confusing for us average folks. Maybe they’ll call it the “iVerse” instead?
Meta’s Missteps: Lessons from the Past?
As Apple gears up for its metaverse adventure, let’s take a moment to reflect on Meta’s missteps.
In 2021, we saw Meta – or as we fondly remember, Facebook – paint the town red with its name change and grand metaverse dreams. Their publicity machine was in overdrive, churning out visions of a future filled with Web3 metaverse games. It felt like the metaverse was not just an idea, but a tangible inevitability. And for a hot minute, we all got swept up in it, didn’t we? Virtual land NFT plots skyrocketed in value and it felt like we were all just one virtual land purchase away from becoming metaverse moguls.
But as the saying goes, “All that glitters is not gold.” By 2022, the metaverse was looking less like the shiny new future we had been promised, and more like an overly complicated, overpriced version of SimCity. The excitement around an immersive internet and Meta’s metaverse project was replaced by harsh criticism. The cost of digital real estate also saw a sharp increase – because, why make virtual life affordable when you can charge an arm and a leg for pixels, right?
Source: Google Search Trends
Never one to back down from a challenge, Meta decided to stick with the metaverse, albeit with a slight shift in messaging. The company’s focus moved towards the rising star of the tech world – artificial intelligence (AI), thanks to OpenAI’s ChatGPT making waves. Suddenly, AI was the belle of Meta’s ball. Mark Zuckerberg himself proclaimed, “Our single largest investment is in advancing AI and building it into every one of our products.”
During Meta’s Q4 2022 earnings call, it became clear that while the metaverse remained a long-term goal, AI was the immediate focus. Or, as Zuck put it, the “major technological waves driving our roadmap are AI today and over the longer term the metaverse.”
Just when you thought the plot couldn’t thicken any further, Meta made a surprise announcement. They were “winding down” support for NFTs on their platforms, less than a year after they jumped onto the NFT bandwagon. Instagram, a Meta-owned platform, had launched an NFT trial in May 2022, allowing select users to display their NFT artwork and collectibles. But alas, like a disappointing season finale, the commitment was short-lived.
The role of NFTs and Web3 in Meta’s metaverse was always a bit fuzzy. Despite a flashy 2021 demonstration video showing NFTs being sold after a digital concert, Meta’s roadmap for integrating Web3 tech into its metaverse remained as clear as mud.
A New Hope for Web 3.0 Companies?
Apple’s entry into the metaverse could provide a much-needed lifeline for Web 3.0 companies, assuming Apple does a better job than its predecessor. The launch of the Vision Pro could spark a flurry of innovation and opportunities in the world of decentralized applications, NFTs, and more. If Apple’s device supports web 3.0 technologies, it could lead to wider acceptance and adoption of these technologies, ultimately benefiting the companies operating in this space. But let’s hold our breath and wait for the actual product reveal before we get carried away with the possibilities.
Conclusion: A Glimpse into the Future, or Just Deja Vu?
As Apple prepares to take its first steps into the metaverse, one can’t help but wonder if we’re on the brink of a new digital revolution or just about to witness another high-profile tech misadventure. Will Apple succeed where Meta faltered? Will the Vision Pro become as ubiquitous as the iPhone, or will it end up as another high-priced paperweight?
Whatever happens, one thing is clear: in the world of the metaverse, it’s never dull, always unpredictable, and sometimes just a little bit ridiculous. But isn’t that why we love it? As we wait for Apple’s grand reveal, let’s enjoy the speculation, the anticipation, and, of course, the inevitable memes that will ensue. Welcome to the metaverse (or iVerse, or whatever Apple decides to call it).
Featured image source: Apple