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This Week in the Metaverse (W20.2023)
Gearing up for Apple's launch of Reality; Roblox's all ages ambition; Long live the metaverse; And a conversation with Justin Hochberg of Virtual Brand Group on Into The Metaverse podcast
Hey, Yon here! Welcome to Into The Metaverse. My mission is to help you understand what is the metaverse, how it will impact our lives, and what opportunities it unlocks. If you are a marketer, entrepreneur, investor or simply a curious professional, Into The Metaverse is for you. Subscribe to get access to every letter and podcast show that I publish.
Let’s dig in!
(1) What I Read This Week
Apple’s Anticipated VR Device Launch
There is great anticipation for the (estimated) launch of Apple’s mixed reality device in June, which virtual reality makes hope will redefine this nascent category which people have been dreaming about going mainstream for years now. Bloomberg gives an overview of the challenges the project is facing internally at apple, the possibility that the execution and ultimate release is quite a deviation from Tim Cook’s original project for the project, and overall gives a sense that while Apple is the one launching the product, the best it can hope for is a success equal to Apple Watch. Guardian adds commentary on why the Apple headset can reignite Meta’s virtual reality efforts as part of taking the whole category to the next phase of mainstream adoption.
My take: I’ll never underestimate the ability of Apple to launch products that people love. They proven time and again that in shipping new products and the intersection of hardware, software and content they are in a league of their own. Although the company didn’t sell as many Apple Watches as the iPhone, Apple is nonetheless the largest watch maker in the world. My estimate is that with an anticipated price tag of $3,000 for its VR device Apple won’t necessarily make the VR headset a mainstream product the sells 100 million device in the first few years but it will likely become the largest VR maker in the world. It doesn’t hurt when Oculus’ investor, Palmer Luckey, is a fan.
The Future of Roblox - All ages
Roblox’s founder and CEO, Dave Baszucki released a letter outlining the company’s ambition of making its immersive platform for communication and connection a place where anyone can find a reason to visit, engage and stay - from watching movies to virtual dating for older ages, to experiencing concerts and fashion. While the perspective of Roblox remains to be one of a platform for kids, Dave does share recent numbers that shows the evolution of its audience
“Our Roblox community continues to evolve as the platform expands and our users grow up alongside us. More than 55% of our users are now over 13 years old and our fastest-growing demographic segment is 17-24-year-old users, with 35% DAU YOY growth in Q1 2023. 17-24 users now represent 22% of our community.”
My take: As you all know I’m bullish on the role that virtual worlds play in the future of the Internet and the next era for how people experience with content, socialize with friends, and express themselves. Roblox is the currency category leader and the numbers that Dave Baszucki shares speak for themselves. With 66 million daily active users (as of Q1.2023) Roblox is clearly a destination for millions of young people. The platform’s ability to get to 100 million DAU and beyond depends on its ability to both retain existing users as they age up as well as attract new users who are 13+ but never been to Roblox before. A key success factor in doing is continuing to push the capabilities of its game engine and enable the very best developers to build next-generation content on the platform.
China and the Metaverse
Vogue Business reports that while there have been some high-profile metaverse failures in China, government support for big tech is bolstering continued investment, with a big focus for companies is the integration of e-commerce into the metaverse and enabling new forms of commerce for both brands and consumers. All big technology companies in China are initiative projects in the space - Tencent, Alibaba, JD and Baidu.
“The metaverse industry in China is expected to grow by 39.5 per cent year-on-year to reach $106 billion in value in 2023, according to new research by consulting firm Tech Insight 360. The country’s metaverse spend will increase by 500 per cent from $76 billion in 2022 to reach $457 billion by 2030” (Vogue Business)
My take: China has been at the edge of innovation in the past 20 years when it comes to new consumer application. WeChat is a great example for how Tencent built and scaled the very first super-app in a way that no US tech company managed to create until today. With the Chinese internet is isolated to some extent from the rest of the world (aka the Great Firewall) in a way that provides a major advantage to local technology companies, it will be no surprise to see a Chinese version of a “metaverse” emerging in the coming years and providing Chinese companies an opportunity to innovate within the boundaries of China but ultimately export its innovation to other parts of the world. We’ve seen it happening before.
We talked about China’s parallel metaverse in episode 10 of the podcast →
(2) What I Wrote This Week
With many in the media continuing to share doomsday projections for the metaverse, I’ve never been more excited about the space and building next-generation experiences for the first metaverse-native audience.
(3) Into The Metaverse podcast: A conversation with Justin Hochberg - CEO, Virtual Brand Group.
Joining me this week as we celebrate our 50th episode of Into the Metaverse is Justin Hochberg, founder and CEO of Virtual Brand Group.
Justin is a metaverse brand builder focused on IP and fashion. He has had a multi-national career as a senior executive in technology and entertainment companies, with a proven track record in creating and leveraging content, IP, brands, and industry insights into new revenue streams through emerging technologies and partnerships.
We cover in detail what are the right objectives that brands should pursue when entering next generation social platforms, connecting virtual identity to real life identity, the value of building a persistent presence, the future of decentralized platforms, the need for consumer friendliness to gain mass adoption, and much more.
Introducing Justin (00:00)
Defining the metaverse (01:45)
Role of 3D avatars in virtual worlds (03:30)
Connecting virtual identity to real life identity (06:05)
Brand objectives within next gen platforms (10:43)
Best path to a persistent presence for a brand (17:20)
Value of and potential adoption of decentralized platforms (22:55)
The need for consumer friendliness and platform interoperability (36:57)
The metaverse is the future (39:15)
Yon is the founder of CEO of Supersocial, an innovator and leading developer, publisher and technology company focused on virtual worlds. Thank you for subscribing to Into The Metaverse. We grow when readers who appreciate our work spread the word.