The dust of 2021 may still be settling, but 2022 is already cooking up a storm. Will we see Apple’s AR glasses? Will we see the NFT space explode or implode? Will brands like Nike and Adidas start to play in the same spaces as tech companies like Niantic and Snapchat? One thing’s for sure, XR is top of mind for tech giants and consumer brands alike.
Before we jump in, let’s reflect on some of the highlights of 2021:
Facebook released its first edition smart glasses to rival Snap, while Snap released its creator-only AR glasses and has been rapidly innovating its AR technology with multiplayer and location-aware features. Apple and Google spent most of 2021 in the dark, quietly building their efforts for AR hardware which is expected to surface sometime late this year/early 2023. Facebook meanwhile pivoted its entire company to a new name and new calling. Now Meta, Zuckerberg has made clear his company’s intention is to go all in on the Metaverse.
Niantic stuck its arms out, putting it on par with the likes of the big four (Google, Apple, Snap, Facebook) by announcing its real-world Metaverse play, along with its mobile AR platform Lightship. Kids’ social game platform Roblox IPOed and expanded its reach by enabling brands to create virtual worlds in their ecosystem, and Fornite significantly invested in its virtual concert offering. Apple, Samsung and Chinese mobile giant Huawei dropped Bluetooth favouring ultra-wideband technology enabling better precision tracking and communication. Netflix entered the gaming market with its new games platform, and the games industry started to explore a new model with crypto at its heart, Play to Earn. Finally, NFTs dominated 2021, moving from a niche offering to a play many brands jumped on, resulting in everything from digital merchandise to major mergers and acquisitions.