san francisco For the Oculus subsidiary, renaming the Facebook parent company to Meta could hardly have been more successful. Because just the announcement by company founder Mark Zuckerberg that he would put all of his company’s energy into developing a Metaverse in the coming years has brought the VR glasses maker to surprisingly high sales. during the holidays.
Several market analysts estimate that the application, necessary for the operation of Oculus glasses, has been downloaded around 1.8 to 2 million times worldwide since Christmas. Sometimes, the Oculus app even topped the download charts in Apple and Google app stores during the holiday season. It is necessary to fit the glasses and therefore serves as an indicator for the sales figures.
It seems that vague announcements from the tech industry regarding the Metaverse have piqued the curiosity of many consumers. While VR glasses have long been considered a niche technology that could only be used for video games or high-tech applications in industry, the devices are now becoming more and more popular, contrary to expectations. many experts – even though the Metaverse could only become a reality in a few years.
The success therefore comes as a surprise even to industry experts. The sudden rise of the Oculus app shows that virtual reality (VR) apps are more widespread than previously thought, writes Jefferies analyst Brent Thill in a recently published study. Now, above all, investments in the Metaverse are “crucial” to inspire young users for VR games.
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VR glasses are also increasingly popular in Germany. According to a survey published by industry association Bitkom last week, 17% of respondents said they use VR glasses from time to time. 21% of non-users said they absolutely want to use such devices in the future. Another 28 percent are considering it at least.
“Virtual reality has long shown its diverse possibilities in games, construction and industrial use,” says Sebastian Klöß, Head of Consumer Technology and AR/VR at Bitkom. With the Metaverse, the next stage of development is imminent, which will give a new impetus to the industry.
Because for the vision that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his industry colleagues such as Epic boss Tim Sweeney are propagating, new devices such as VR glasses play a decisive role. In the long term, it is essentially about creating a three-dimensional digital image of reality, which can then be expanded to include virtual spaces and objects.
The blockchain is intended to make virtual objects tradable
According to the promotional videos of Meta, in the future it will be possible to visit concerts with friends while one is at home and the other in the concert hall. “In order to fully immerse yourself in this virtual world, to be able to interact with others and to create virtual objects, there is no way around VR glasses”, says expert Bitkom Klöß.
With the Metaverse, a whole economy will be created around virtual objects. Like digital works of art, which can be traded as individual pieces via “non-fungible tokens” (NFTs), virtual objects must also be able to identify their origin in the metaverse in order to be considered originals. Adidas, for example, has already developed a virtual collection that is sold and traded via NFT – and is therefore limited.
If Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg succeeds, a whole economy around spaces and digital objects will eventually emerge. The Metaverse is about “building a much bigger creative economy,” the official explained during his presentation last year.
As with any technology, the more users have the right devices, the more attractive a platform becomes for content and app developers. At the same time, a wide variety of content and applications ensures that more consumers decide to buy a device.
However, an estimate from the strategy consulting firm Boston Consulting Group (BCG) last February shows that this process can go very quickly. As a result, the global market volume of VR applications and devices will increase tenfold from 2021 to 2024, from US$30.7 billion to US$297 billion. The estimate is from before the hype around the Metaverse started.
Meta and Microsoft are working on the Metaverse
Even though this long-term goal is probably many years away, users can already see the individual building blocks of this future metaverse. The most advanced are gaming platforms such as Roblox or Fortnite (Epic), which can already be captured with VR glasses – although the experience here is limited to virtual space.
In addition to video games, VR glasses can also be used for digital meetings, which are meant to provide a more personal experience than video conferencing. The future relationship to reality can already be guessed here. The Horizon meta-platform and the Microsoft Mesh service are examples.
In both cases, companies rely on so-called mixed reality technologies to integrate parts of the physical workplace where the user sits into the digital space. This should allow, for example, typing on a real keyboard during a virtual meeting without the user having to remove their glasses.
However, at least in Germany, VR glasses at work remain one of the rarest application scenarios. In the Bitkom survey, only 7% of active users said they had used VR glasses in their work environment. On the other hand, the devices were used much more for video games (77%) or virtual trips (71%).
After: Metavers, giant televisions, autonomous driving: these are the trends at CES.