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Who is Leading in the Development of the Metaverse?

A recent report from Grayscale suggests that the metaverse has the potential to become a $1 trillion annual revenue opportunity. Considering that the metaverse encompasses GameFi, virtual land, NFT verticals, and interconnected 3D worlds, there is a vast potential that companies and individuals are swarming to take advantage of ahead of the crowd. For example, Facebook, now Meta, changed its brand identity to establish itself as a pioneer in the metaverse.

But just who are the big players staking their claim on this new frontier? Let’s take a look.

The race to build the metaverse

The metaverse is a shared, virtually-enhanced world accessible via various devices that users can explore through web browsers, crypto wallets, and VR headsets. Blockchain technology, Web 3.0, and Virtual and Augmented Reality (VAR) are all used to create the metaverse.

Several leading firms are announcing their own virtual reality (VR) plans in a bid to pursue possibilities in the "metaverse." Such companies include Meta, Microsoft, Baidu, Tencent, and more.

Facebook rebrands to Meta

On October 25, 2021, Facebook Inc. announced that it had changed its corporate name to Meta, marking the first major rebrand for the social networking giant. The name shift represented the firm's desire to branch out beyond social media. A news release outlined the company's goal for creating a "metavent" that connects online social interactions with the physical world.

In November 2021, Mark Zuckerberg started to discuss how to build the new metaverse platform with improved functionality and user experience by cooperating with merchants and developers worldwide. Facebook’s solid financial capability and huge user base make it a prominent corporation with plans to develop an open-source suite of metaverse technologies at the F8 2022 developers conference.

Microsoft’s plans for virtual environment

Microsoft unveiled its metaverse project called Microsoft Mesh with the goal of changing how people work. Users can enter the virtual working environment with their HoloLens 2 headset and become an avatar in a virtual office. According to the firm, users may showcase their personality through eye contact, facial expressions, and movements.

During the Ignite Conference, Microsoft's CEO revealed its intentions to launch its metaverse with Office apps, including PowerPoint. In addition, the chat software will allow Microsoft clients to conduct virtual meetings. The initial version of Microsoft's Team chat includes digital avatars that are already being tested by its employees. This program will be released in Q1 of 2022, allowing users to interact in a virtual environment and share Office functions and files.

Microsoft's primary goal is to develop valuable tools that provide clear advantages to individuals, such as AzureOpenAI, News Teams, Loop, and Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces. In addition, the metaverse apps will be compatible with the Oculus headsets made by Meta Platforms Inc to ensure the concept’s success.

Baidu supporting virtual world infrastructure

One of China's major internet search engines, Baidu, applied for the trademark "metapp" and officially joined the metaverse industry in October 2021. The firm also released its first metaverse app XiRang, which means the "Land of Hope," with the virtual XiRangs available to consumers as early as November 2021. Although Baidu planned to release its XiRang metaverse software in late Q4 2021, it has pushed back its timeline.

The company's "Create 2021" event, held in a metaverse environment last year, was billed as China's first conference hosted in a metaverse space. According to XiRang, the app handled up to 100,000 metaverse avatars interacting with one another throughout the three-day conference.

The firm also plans to build an open-source platform for metaverse developers to support the virtual world’s infrastructure. However, despite its emphasis on digital infrastructure, Baidu's metaverse app will not support cryptocurrencies or NFTs due to China's renewed crypto ban policy.

Tencent files metaverse-related trademarks

Experts say the virtual world might become a rivalry between Meta and Tencent, with the Chinese social media and gaming behemoth Tencent getting involved. The South China Morning Post reported that the company had filed numerous metaverse-related trademarks for its QQ social networking site. However, the firm has not announced any intentions to enter the metaverse officially.

The firm has collaborated with Epic Games and Roblox's gaming platform, among other strategic partnerships. Tencent's empire also includes virtual offices and mobile payments.

China's present clampdown on the Internet sector might suggest that the metaverse has a bleak future. However, Tencent claims that Beijing is "not inherently opposed to the growth of (the) metaverse," as long as users' experiences are "kept under control."

Nvidia’s 3D virtual realms

Nvidia coins the metaverse as the Omniverse. Its platform links 3D virtual realms (metaverses) into a shared virtual universe. For example, the Omniverse may be used to construct real-life simulations of buildings and factories. Therefore, it has the potential to be the metaverse's foundation.

Closing Thoughts

NFTs made waves last year, and their incorporation in the metaverse is bound to change how users interact with the internet. With major companies joining the metaverse to explore new possibilities, the gap between the virtual and physical worlds has never been closer.

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