BlackRock expects 2022 to be a “gamechanger” for the metaverse as Big Tech invests in the space.
Equities chief Nigel Bolton predicts new AR glasses and 5G technology will fuel growth in the space.It’s hard to tell which companies and sectors will dominate the metaverse, Bolton said.
BlackRock expects 2022 to be a big year for the metaverse, with some transformative products set to launch in the coming months.
“We think there’s a few things happening here, which are actually going to be quite big game-changers in the not-too-distant future,” Nigel Bolton, co-head of equities at the $10 trillion asset manager, told CNBC over the weekend.
“By the end of this year or the beginning of next year, we should start to see the new augmented-reality glasses coming through. And that’s going to be, we believe, a real game-changer for how this technology is used.”
Bolton’s comments came after Big Tech companies’ fourth-quarter earnings reports revealed strong interest in the metaverse, a loose term referring to virtual worlds in which people create avatars to play games, work, build things, or watch virtual events.
Earnings from Meta, formerly Facebook, showed the company’s Reality Labs metaverse section reported massive and growing losses, including $10 billion in 2021 alone.
Meta is leading the charge of the Big Tech companies into the metaverse, butMicrosoft recently agreed to buy video game maker Activision in a $75 billion deal. Apple CEO Tim Cook in January called it “very interesting.”
Bolton told CNBC that the widespread arrival of 5G internet speeds should also be a catalyst that will drive more people to use metaverse-like technologies.
Yet in terms of investing in the metaverse, he said: “It’s quite hard for us to understand at this moment in time exactly how big this is going to be and who are going to be the real winners there.”
Bolton said it’s a bit like the early days of the internet in the 1990s, or the advent of smartphones in the 2000s.
There are plenty of skeptics about the metaverse, however, with many arguing that it’s a rebranding of technology that has been around for years.
Ethan Zuckerman, communications professor at University of Massachusetts Amherst, told Insider in December that many people are unlikely to want to live their lives in virtual realities.
For instance, the idea of holding work meetings in the form of expressionless avatars is “the sort of thing only a computer scientist could love.”