San Francisco For subsidiary Oculus, rebranding parent company Facebook to Meta could hardly have been more successful. Because company founder Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that he will put all his company’s energies into developing the Metaverse in the coming years brought the VR glasses manufacturer surprisingly high sales during the holidays.
Many market analysts estimate that the app, which is required to run Oculus glasses, has been downloaded about 1.8 to 2 million times worldwide since Christmas. Sometimes the Oculus app tops the download leaderboards in the Apple and Google app stores during the holiday season. They are essential for eyeglass fitting and therefore are used as an indicator of sales figures.
The tech industry’s obscure announcements about the Metaverse seem to have piqued the curiosity of many consumers. While virtual reality glasses have long been considered a niche technology that can only be used in video games or high-tech applications in the industry, devices are now increasingly commonplace, contrary to the expectations of many experts — even if they couldn’t be The Metaverse will only become a reality in a few years.
So the success comes as a surprise even to industry experts. The sudden rise of Oculus shows that virtual reality (VR) applications are more prevalent than previously thought, Jefferies analyst Brent Thill wrote in a recently published study. Now, above all else, investments in the Metaverse are “critical” for inspiring younger users of virtual reality games.
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Virtual reality glasses are also growing in popularity in Germany. According to a survey published by the Bitkom Industry Association last week, 17 percent of those surveyed said they use VR glasses from time to time. 21 percent of non-users stated that they would definitely want to use such devices in the future. At least 28 percent think so.
“Virtual reality has always shown its diverse potential in gaming, construction and industrial use,” says Sebastian Kloss, Head of Consumer Technology and Augmented/Virtual Reality at Bitkom. With Metaverse, the next development step is imminent, which will give the industry an extra boost.
With the insight shared by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and industry colleagues like Epic President Tim Sweeney, new devices like virtual reality glasses play a crucial role. In the long run, it is mainly about creating a digital three-dimensional image of reality, which can then be expanded to virtual spaces and objects.
Blockchain aims to make virtual objects tradable
If you believe the promotional videos from Meta, then in the future it will be possible to visit concerts with friends while one is at home and the other is in the concert hall. “In order to fully immerse yourself in this virtual world, to be able to interact with others and create virtual objects, there is no way you can beat the VR goggles,” says Bitkom Klöß expert.
With Metaverse, an entire economy is built around virtual objects. Similar to digital artwork, which can be traded as individual pieces via “Non-Foldable Tokens” (NFT), virtual objects must also be able to identify their origin in the metaverse in order to be considered authentic. For example, Adidas has already developed a virtual kit that is sold and traded via NFT – and is therefore limited.
If Meta’s head, Mark Zuckerberg, gets his way, an entire economy around digital spaces and things will emerge in the long run. The Metaverse is about “building a significantly larger creative economy,” the director explained in his presentation last year.
As with any technology, the more users own the right hardware, the more attractive the platform becomes for content and app developers. At the same time, a large variety of content and applications ensures that more consumers decide to purchase a device.
However, an estimate by the Boston Consulting Group for Strategic Consulting (BCG) from last February shows that this process can go very quickly. Accordingly, the global market size for virtual reality applications and devices will increase tenfold from 2021 to 2024 from 30.7 billion US dollars to 297 billion US dollars. Estimate of the time before the hype that really started around the Metaverse.
Meta and Microsoft are working on the Metaverse
Even if this long-term goal is probably many years in the future, users can already view the individual building blocks of this future metaverse. The most advanced are gaming platforms like Roblox or Fortnite (Epic), which can actually be entered using VR glasses – even if the experience here is limited to the virtual space.
In addition to video games, virtual reality glasses can also be used for digital meetings, which are intended to offer a more personal experience than video conferencing. The future relationship with reality can already be guessed here. Examples include the Horizon meta-platform and the Microsoft service Mesh.
In both cases, companies rely on so-called mixed reality technologies in order to integrate parts of the physical workplace where the user sits in the digital space. This should enable, for example, typing on a real keyboard during a virtual meeting without the user having to take off their glasses.
However, at least in Germany, VR glasses in action are still one of the rarest application scenarios. In a Bitkom survey, only seven percent of active users reported having used virtual reality glasses in their professional environment. On the other hand, devices were used more frequently for video games (77 percent) or virtual trips (71 percent).
more: Metaverse, giant televisions, autonomous driving: these are the trends at CES.