The hottest word in 2021, “metaverse” (metaverse) will occupy a seat, which not only attracted the layout of giants, but also aroused the popularity of the capital market and national discussion. 2021 is also known as the “first year of metaverse”.
Recently, the reporter of China business daily learned from Baidu that Baidu create 2021 (Baidu AI Developer Conference) was held in “xirang” app, which is the first conference held in metaverse in China. Each user can log in to “Xi land” through computer, mobile phone and wearable devices, and “immersive” listening, shopping, communication and exhibition, and accommodate 100000 people to interact on the same screen at the same time.
In fact, other domestic giants such as Tencent, Alibaba and NetEase have already laid out metaverse. Foreign giants meta, Microsoft and Google also set foot in one after another. At the end of October, Facebook changed its name to meta and fully entered the metaverse industry, which detonated the concept of metaverse.
On December 30, 2021, the stock prices of metaverse concept stocks such as Jiaxun Feihong (300213. SZ) and Caesar culture (002425. SZ) continued to rise to the limit. Previously, roblox, known as “the first stock of metaverse”, soared more than 10 times to US $50 billion; The virtual land in metaverse has begun to stir fry. A singer spent about $123000 to buy three “virtual land” and “virtual real estate speculation group” rushed to the hot search.
What exactly is metaverse? Is it a commercial blue ocean or a marketing bubble? Why can it attract the continuous influx of giants and capital? Where will metaverse go in the future and what are the trends? Behind the question, there are some doubts and puzzles, as well as many warm hopes and expectations.
A parallel virtual world
“In the eyes of 1000 people, there are 10000 metaverse”. Although it has been popular for more than half a year, there is no unified and clear definition in the industry, but there are still some common elements to interpret this hot word. In fact, metaverse is not a new concept.
The concept of metaverse first appeared in the American writer Neil Stephenson’s science fiction avalanche in 1992. The novel depicts a virtual digital world parallel to the real world – “meta world”. People in the real world have a virtual avatar in the meta world. People compete with each other by controlling this virtual avatar to improve their social status.
David basuki, CEO of roblox, proposed the eight elements required for metaverse: identity, friends, immersion, low delay, diversity, anywhere, economic system and civilization. Metaverse is a virtual world that can be understood as a replica of the real world. People can entertain, socialize, consume, etc. in metaverse.
In the ideal metaverse, people can enjoy the feast of thought and art in the exhibition hall anytime and anywhere. One second they are still holding a meeting at their desk, the next they can enjoy sunbathing on the beach, or freely shuttle through boundless beauty, and even incarnate as superheroes to save the world. As long as people wear VR and other virtual devices, they can enter this virtual world parallel to reality.
The “oasis” depicted in the science fiction film “the number one player” is considered to be a landing of metaverse form. A young man living in a slum can enter a virtual world called “oasis” with virtual equipment. There, he turned into a handsome man with a lot of money, racing, mountaineering and treasure hunting with his friends
However, for this new concept and trend, more people are still in an unknown and confused state. Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, admitted that he was not optimistic that metaverse would be a new trend in the near future. “Anyway, I don’t understand, at least not yet.” ‘I don’t think anyone will tie the screen to their head all day,’ Mr. musk said.
“Metaverse has been paid so much attention and discussed now, partly because no one can fully understand it, and partly because there are huge interests hidden behind it – a new business model and a series of businesses.” An observer in the field of science and technology told reporters that before the Internet was popular, it also gave birth to a series of concepts.
Giants have rushed behind the beach
The concept has not been clarified, which does not prevent the giants from seizing the beach layout, but gives each industry giant space to extend and play.
As a market concept with broad imagination and hot, metaverse is even regarded as a ticket for the next generation of Internet technology. Every enterprise brand wants to take the express and layout in advance. After Facebook changed its name, Microsoft officially announced the enterprise metaverse solution, and Apple’s first AR / VR head display will be released as early as 2022.
Domestic giants are also unwilling to lag behind. In April 2021, byte beat invested in metaverse concept company code Qiankun, and then spent more than 9 billion yuan to acquire VR startup Pico. In September 2021, Alibaba registered “Ali metaverse” and other trademarks, and in October, it immediately established XR laboratory. Ma Huateng put forward the concept of “Quanzhen Internet” similar to metaverse at the end of 2020. Baidu began to lay out VR industry in 2016.
More industries and enterprises themselves are not involved in the field of science and technology, but they also rush to register the metaverse trademark or launch related products. According to statistics, as of November 17, 2021, China has applied for 4368 metaverse trademarks, involving 689 companies. Among them, 99.9% of metaverse trademarks were registered and applied in 2021.
Therefore, insiders admitted that most functions of metaverse products launched on the market have not made substantial progress, but “new bottled old wine”. The above observers in the field of science and technology said that at present, some internet science and technology enterprises hope to take advantage of this hot track in advance, and more enterprises still take advantage of this hot spot to make profits.
However, the sudden fire of metaverse concept in 2021 also has a realistic basis for moving from concept to popularity.
Zuo Pengfei, an associate researcher at the Institute of quantitative economics and technical economics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, believes that there are profound economic and social reasons behind the metaverse fever. “At present, the dividend of mobile Internet has peaked and subsided. As a carrier of the integration of virtual world and real world, metaverse contains great opportunities for social, content, games, office and other scene changes. Traditional digital technology enterprises and emerging start-ups want to seize future opportunities.” Zuo Pengfei said.
The popularity of metaverse in 021 also has a realistic technical foundation. The rapid development of underlying technologies such as 5g, chip, AI, cloud computing and blockchain, and the gradual completion of hardware facilities such as VR have laid the foundation for metaverse. Conversely, metaverse can also bring development opportunities for games, social networking, retail, e-commerce and industrial Internet.
Bloomberg industry research report predicts that the market scale of metaverse will reach US $800 billion in 2024; It has commercial value and explosive potential.
Novel coronavirus pneumonia has accelerated the social virtualization from a more realistic perspective. The epidemic has increased significantly in the whole society and the rapid development of the “home economy”. Online life has become the norm from the original short-term exception, and human real life has begun to migrate to the virtual world on a large scale.
“Technology has a realistic foundation, capital seeks new exports, and users expect new experiences”, which is considered to be the main reason for the fire of metaverse concept in 2021.
The future has come?
2021 is called the “first year of metaverse”, which is five years from 2016, which is called the “first year of virtual reality”.
Although the phenomenon of taking advantage of hot spots to circle money is common at present, metaverse still has irreplaceable value and broad business prospects, because the technology development path is uncertain, but the technology development trend is certain. “Looking at the value of metaverse today is like thinking about the value that the Internet will bring in 1999.” Yang Ge, partner of Xinghan capital, said that metaverse is still in the early stage of development, but its development will undoubtedly bring huge social changes and market linkage effects.
The most direct is that the VR / AR industry boom is rising again. According to IDC data, the global volume of VR heads is increasing. It is estimated that the shipment volume in 2021 will increase from 6.7 million units in 2020 to 8.5 million units, and will reach 28.6 million units in 2025.
Institutions are also beginning to be optimistic about the prospects of metaverse. Guotai Junan research report said that the outbreak period of metaverse may be approaching.
Guohai Securities believes that the concept of metaverse is currently in its infancy. In the medium and long term, metaverse is expected to bring innovation to the virtual world and promote the common prosperity of all links of the industrial chain such as game content, community, education, commodity trading, artificial intelligence, VR / AR and blockchain.
Tsinghua University’s “Metaverse Development Research Report from 2020 to 2021” said that Metaverse is the ultimate form of mobile Internet, but because Metaverse industry is still in its initial stage of development, and has immature and unstable characteristics of emerging industries, at least there are capital manipulation, public opinion bubbles, ethical constraints, monopoly tension, industrial involution and calculation pressure. The ten risk points of economic risk, addiction risk, privacy risk and intellectual property protection need the industry and market to return to rationality.
From a realistic point of view, the limitations of current technology make it impossible for us to reach a virtual place wholeheartedly; Online meetings are often delayed, stuck or even interrupted from time to time; AR / VR head display is difficult to use for a long time; The computing power is difficult to support the simultaneous access of billions of users; wait.
“Technical limitations are the biggest bottleneck facing the development of metaverse in China, especially the underlying information technology such as mobile communication, big data and artificial intelligence. China should increase investment in basic information technology research and development, encourage and support relevant enterprises to strengthen basic research, enhance technological innovation ability and steadily improve technological maturity.” Zuo Pengfei said.
Wang Jiaqi, investment director of metaverse track of Qingtong capital, believes that “from the technical level, the realization of metaverse world needs to solve three key problems: one is how to enter metaverse, the other is what kind of metaverse to enter, and the third is how to maintain the self operation of metaverse.”
On December 20, 2021, “Horizon worlds”, just opened by meta, revealed the first metaverse sexual harassment case in history, reminding that the legal, ethical, data privacy, supervision and other issues behind metaverse need to be further improved.