Vast fortunes will be made and lost chasing the metaverse, according to venture capitalist Matthew Ball. He believes that some of the current tech giants will be displaced, others will adapt, with still other new giants being formed along the way.
“If the metaverse is to be a multi-trillion-dollar part of our economy, we certainly can’t pay a 30% tithe to two computing platforms especially when they are not alone building it,” says Ball.
(Take that, Apple and Alphabet.)
No one has extolled the promise of the metaverse more than the former Amazon executive. He is regarded as a preeminent metaverse expert and is frequently quoted by technology industry leaders.
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Now he’s collected those ideas in a book, The Metaverse: And How it Will Revolutionize Everything.
In the book, Ball describes the metaverse as “a parallel virtual plane of existence that spans all digital technologies” — one that will “even come to control much of the physical world.”
But building this is hard, not least because the Internet Mark I was designed primarily to enable static files to be copied and sent from one device to another. It clearly wasn’t built for live and interactive experiences involving a large number of participants.
The metaverse may be a wild frontier, but here at NAB Amplify we’ve got you covered! Hand-selected from our archives, here are some of the essential insights you’ll need to expand your knowledge base and confidently explore the new horizons ahead:
- What Is the Metaverse and Why Should You Care?
- Avatar to Web3: An A-Z Compendium of the Metaverse
- The Metaverse is Coming To Get You. Is That a Bad Thing?
- Don’t Expect the Metaverse to Happen Overnight
- A Framework for the Metaverse from Hardware to Hollywood and Everything in Between
As it stands, there’s no consensus on file formats or conventions for 3D information, no standard systems to exchange data in virtual worlds.
“We also lack the computing power to pull off the metaverse as we imagine it. And we will want many new devices to realize it — not just VR goggles, but things like holographic displays, ultra-sonic force-field generators, and, spooky as it sounds, devices to capture electrical signals sent across muscles.”
For now, the metaverse is still waiting on affordable, mainstream hardware that’s still powerful enough to simulate real worlds.
“To pull it off with a degree of visual fidelity and complexity that we imagine for the metaverse, it will take a myriad of different innovations,” he tells Tae Kim at Barrons. “We need fundamental advances in internet protocols, in broadband latency, and extraordinary advances in computing power and the attendant chips.”
00:00 – Intro 01:22 – What the metaverse is not 02:30 – 10-part definition of the metaverse 02:56 – Part 1: Massively-scaled 03:23 – Part 2: Virtual worlds 03:51 – Part 3: 3D 04:26 – Part 4: Interoperable network 05:41 – Part 5: Real-time rendering 06:14 – Part 6: Synchronous 06:45 – Part 7: Persistent 08:00 – Parts 8 & 9: Unlimited users with individual sense of presence 08:22 – Part 10: Continuity of data 08:55 – Technological eras are bundles 09:17 – 7 subcategories of the metaverse 09:27 – Subcategory 1: Hardware 09:45 – Subcategory 2: Networking 09:57 – Subcategory 3: Computer powers 10:13 – Subcategory 4: Virtual platforms 10:45 – Subcategory 5: Interoperability standards 11:05 – Subcategory 6: Payment rails 11:18 – Subcategory 7: CAIS 11:46 – 5 stunning metaverse examples 13:08 – Why do we need to learn about it now?
For a full transcript of the video, click here.
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“As the world’s largest corporations and most ambitious start-ups pursue the metaverse, it’s essential that we — users, developers, consumers, and voters — understand we still have agency over our future and the ability to reset the status quo, but only if we act now.”— Matthew Ball
The volume of content we produce online has grown exponentially from a few message board posts to a constant stream of multimedia content. Ball thinks the next evolution to this trend seems likely to be a persistent and “living” virtual world that is not a window into our life (such as Instagram) nor a place where we communicate it (such as Gmail) but one in which we also exist — and in 3D (hence the focus on immersive VR headsets and avatars).
Nonetheless, Ball does pronounce on the relative merits of major tech players and their plans to metaverse domination.
Given that metaverse requirements in computing, data centers, and edge services are so extraordinary he finds companies like AWS and Microsoft Azure “likely destined for success”. Another golden child is Nvidia “a company that has spent 40 years waiting for this moment and decades investing for the era of graphics-based computing.”
Listen to Matthew Ball discuss “Everything about the metaverse you were too afraid to ask” with Michelle Harven at NPR station WAMU:
Meta “has been more stymied by the lack of an operating system” which has adversely affected its cloud gaming offering, and is now precluding it “from having a particularly viable creator platform because of the 30% fee that other platforms charge,” says Ball.
Not that he thinks that monopolizing fees a good thing. On the contrary, “If the future of all business is going into 3D real time, predominantly on Google and Apple devices, having to pay a 30% fee that has little to no direct competition doesn’t work,” he tells Barrons. “No business or developer can afford that. building it. It’s going to constrain everything that we do and the business models that are deployed and the developers who need to build it.”
Speaking to Stephen Totilo at Axios, Ball calls game developers “the world’s leading experts” in building synchronous virtual online spaces, attracting millions of people to them and prioritizing that they are having a good time inside.
Game design may have “seemed like a toyetic profession” to outsiders but “has turned out to be one of the most important skill sets of the modern era.”
Ball also takes aim at what the metaverse is not. First, the idea that the metaverse is immersive virtual reality, such as an Oculus or Meta Quest.
“That’s an access device,” he tells Protocol’s Janko Roettgers. “It would be akin to saying the mobile internet is a smartphone. In addition, we know that VR headsets, at least as mainstream devices, are quite a ways off. They may ultimately become the best, most popular preferred way to access the metaverse. But they’re not the metaverse. They’re not a requirement.
Another frequent conflation is that between the metaverse and Web3, crypto, and blockchains. This trio may become an important part of realizing the metaverse’s potential, Ball writes, but they are merely principles and technologies. In fact, many metaverse leaders doubt there is any future for crypto.
His book’s title is a bit misleading since Ball doesn’t actually think the metaverse replaces everything.
“We’re in the mobile era, but we’re still using personal computers,” he says. “I have a hard line into my household network, and all of the data transmission is on fixed-line infrastructure running on TCP/IP.
We should think of the metaverse as perhaps changing the devices we use, the experiences, business models, protocols and behaviors that we enjoy online. But we’ll keep using smartphones, keyboards. We don’t need to do all video conferences or all calls in 3D. It’s supplements and complements, doesn’t replace everything.”
“To pull it off with a degree of visual fidelity and complexity that we imagine for the metaverse, it will take a myriad of different innovations. We need fundamental advances in internet protocols, in broadband latency, and extraordinary advances in computing power and the attendant chips.”— Matthew Ball
While pushing back on the idea of the metaverse as inherently dystopic, he does suggest that it will be “a parallel plane of existence that sits atop our digital and physical economies, and unites both. As a result, the companies that control these virtual worlds and their virtual atoms will be more dominant than those who lead in today’s digital economy.”
The metaverse will thus render more acute many of the hard problems of digital existence today, such as data rights, data security, misinformation and radicalization, platform power, and user happiness.
“The philosophies, culture, and priorities of the companies that lead in the metaverse era, therefore, will help determine whether the future is better or worse than our current moment, rather than just more virtual or remunerative.”
In that case, and while “there isn’t really a metaverse product we can go buy, nor “metaverse revenue” to be found on an income statement, it is beholden on us all to push back against some of the more venal and corporate shackles of those who are building the metaverse.
“As the world’s largest corporations and most ambitious start-ups pursue the metaverse, it’s essential that we — users, developers, consumers, and voters — understand we still have agency over our future and the ability to reset the status quo, but only if we act now.”
Award-Winning Producer Evan Shapiro to Keynote 2022 NAB Show New York Opening
By NAB Amplify
Award-winning film producer and industry thought leader Evan Shapiro will keynote the 2022 NAB Show New York opening event on Wednesday, October 19 at 10:30 a.m. at the Javits Center.
In his keynote address, “Bringing Media Into the Current Century, Now,” Shapiro’s notoriously interactive presentation will engage NAB Show New York attendees in examining the shifts occurring in today’s media landscape.
Shapiro’s address will take place in the Content Theater located on the show floor following welcome remarks by National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) President and CEO Curtis LeGeyt.
Evan Shapiro is an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning producer of film, TV and podcasts. He is a professor of Media Studies at New York University and Fordham University schools of business and co-hosts a podcast called Cancel Culture. Many in media know him as the official, unofficial cartographer of the media universe. Using his specific point of view, Shapiro has mapped the tech and entertainment ecosystem, and through his essays, helps chart media’s future. Shapiro uses these insights to power his change agency, ESHAP, which offers partners and consumers media insight as a service.
“With an impressive resume of award-winning projects, unique insight into the competition for audience’s attention and influential thinking about the future of the business, Evan Shapiro is a sought-after voice for preparing media professionals for the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow,” said Chris Brown, NAB executive vice president and managing director, Global Connections and Events. “We are excited to have Evan share his perspective with our community as we kick off the return to an in-person NAB Show New York.”
Shapiro will also participate in an exclusive interview on NAB Amplify as a preview to his NAB Show New York keynote address.