In the era of digital transformation, the metaverse has become the new frontier for technology companies. As a virtual reality space where users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users, the metaverse is breaking boundaries and opening up endless possibilities for businesses and consumers alike.
This article delves into the strategic moves and plans of four major companies – Apple, Spotify, Tinder, and Shopify – as they navigate their paths in this burgeoning space.
- Unlike the other tech giants, Apple has neither released nor joined the “metaverse race” publicly; however, it is building a strong footprint on the infrastructure by working on an advanced high-end AR/VR headset that could be ready in 2023, according to Bloomberg.
- This bet reflects Apple CEO Tim Cook’s ideas:
“I think AR is a profound technology that will affect everything. Imagine suddenly being able to teach with AR and demonstrate things that way. Or medically, and so on. Like I said, we are really going to look back and think about how we once lived without AR.”Tim Cook, CEO Apple
- In May 2022, the music streaming company announced its entry into the virtual world with a partnership with Roblox and launched “Spotify Island.” In this world, users (both artists and fans) can hang out and explore a “wonderland of sounds, quests” and obtain exclusive merch for their Roblox avatars.
- With this move, Spotify is the first music-streaming company to have a presence in the Roblox game and start exploring innovative methods, in which their users can interact and establish new relationships with artists and creators.
- The visuals of this virtual world are based on green areas, with different icons (such as “Like” icons for redeeming free virtual merch) and interactive quests. Related to merch, the company explains that a portion of sales will go to the artists (but has not revealed what specific share).
- It’s expected that users will be able to go to different themed islands, each of which has related content, activities and quests. The first one will be “K-Park,” a perfect place for all K-Pop culture.
- Back in December 2021, Match Group, the holding company of Tinder, announced its plans to enter the metaverse race with its so-called Tinderverse virtual world; with this, the company also announced plans to launch its own in-app currency, Tinder Coins, which was intended to reward customers who were active on the app and be accepted as payment for premium Tinder features.
- To make a more aggressive bet, Tinder acquired the AI and AR firm Hyperconnect, a well-known social discovery and video technology firm that launched two flagship apps: Azar (live video and audio chat) and Hakuna Live (a social live streaming app). Match Group expects the acquisition will help it to expand online dating and social features on its apps.
- However, last August, Bernard Kim, the company’s CEO, instructed the Hyperconnect team to scale back and “not invest heavily in the metaverse at this time,” citing uncertainty about how the whole metaverse will look and a more challenging operating environment. This happened after the resignation of Tinder CEO Renate Nyborg and disappointing Q2 earnings. On Dec. 22, the company decided to delist Match Group’s stock.
- Similar to Apple, the biggest e-commerce platform is betting on incorporating AR into its business in the e-commerce segment. Currently, Shopify — thanks to a partnership with Poplar Studio — has been allowing merchants to launch a 3D and AR version of products on their respective sites.
- According to Poplar Studio, “Once the brand has built the 3D model of its catalog, it can create the AR visualization experience, helping seeing the products in more detail, overlying the 3D models onto the real world from the app/web.”
- Furthermore, the company has announced a partnership with Novel, a no-code Web3 e-commerce platform. Thanks to this partnership, the startup launched an app on Shopify Store to equip existing merchants on Shopify with easy-to-use tools to experiment with Web3 without any technical knowledge. The core features allow for the creation (minting) and distribution of NFTs to be bought in the Shopify merchant front end.
- The movement and interest in the metaverse have also attracted “legacy” or “traditional” fashion brands to the space. The move here appears to have strengthened its product offering and created a virtual immersive store where brands can interact with the worldwide public and sell virtual items.
As we’ve explored, Apple, Spotify, Tinder, and Shopify are all making their mark on the metaverse in unique ways. From Apple’s advanced AR/VR headset to Spotify’s musical wonderland on Roblox, Tinder’s virtual world and in-app currency to Shopify’s AR-enhanced e-commerce experience, these companies are leveraging technology to create immersive and interactive environments for their users.
While the future of the metaverse remains uncertain, one thing is clear: these tech giants are leading the charge and shaping the future of this exciting new digital realm.