Web3 is going through a period of rapid and significant change. Here are five developments that will reshape the emerging tech ecosystem in the near future.
Web3 – a technological ecosystem that can be considered a decentralized Internet – is constantly evolving and reshaping the ways we work, play and communicate.
Many people confuse web3 with metaverse, but these are not actually synonymous; while the metaverse is a vaguely defined virtual space that remains mostly hypothetical, web3 is already alive and well. A variety of web3-based technologies – including non-fungible tokens (NFTs), cryptocurrency, and decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) have become increasingly familiar to mainstream culture in recent years.
At the same time, we are living in a moment of transformation for web3. The start of the so-called “crypto winter” earlier this year triggered a significant drop in crypto investments and NFT sales. Meta’s financial problems have led to doubts about the feasibility of its vision for the metaverse (which, while by no means a vision shared with the entire web3 community, is nevertheless arguably the one who has most influenced public understanding of the Metaverse). And governments seem to be stepping up their efforts to regulate digital asset industries.
Web3 is having some growing pains, but it’s not going away any time soon. With that in mind, here are five Web3 trends marketers should be aware of in 2023:
1. Increased spirit of sustainable development. It often takes huge amounts of energy to run a blockchain; this has been one of the biggest barriers (rightly so) to the widespread adoption of the technology. But we are seeing more and more web3 companies emphasizing environmental awareness in their business models. And the crypto industry was transformed earlier this year after the successful “merger” of Ethereum, which shifted the blockchain platform from a proof-of-work model to a proof-of-stake model and reduces its energy consumption by up to 99%. It is likely that the web3 industry will continue to prioritize a sustainability mindset in the new year.
2. More government control. Government regulation of web3 – particularly crypto and NFT – is increasing. Earlier this week, Al Jazeera reported that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) intergovernmental watchdog group, in an effort to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing, will begin adding countries that do not implement crypto regulatory policies adequate to a “grey list”. In October, the Financial Stability Supervisory Board (part of the US Treasury Department) released a 124-page report urging Congress to begin regulating the crypto industry, citing gigs on the integrity of the American economy.
3. NFT utilities. To date, many NFTs have been little more than digital works of art at astronomical costs; this lack of practical functionality has been a major reason why some believe that NFT peddlers are scammers and that the NFT industry as a whole is one giant bubble that will inevitably burst. Many in the Web3 industry seem to have heard these accusations (and seen some merit in them), as we’ve seen the rise of “utility NFTs” – i.e. NFTs that unlock a some sort of tangible benefit, like access to exclusive events or physical products.
4. Continued business involvement. Well and truly kicking off in 2021, a growing number of brands are eagerly claiming the web3 space, looking to explore new ways of marketing and customer engagement, especially with younger audiences. The crypto winter and the current Meta crisis may have deterred some brands from investing in Web3, but other big brands still seem eager to make a name for themselves in an ever-changing space. MasterCard and Fidelity Investments, for example, recently launched new campaigns aimed at making it easier for some customers to get involved in crypto.
5. The rise of augmented reality. Virtual reality, as Meta’s recent corporate struggles have demonstrated, faces an uncertain future; Meta is marketing its new Quest Pro VR headset largely as a workhorse, but it remains to be seen if many professionals will be keen to use the device in their work, let alone the $1,499 bill.
There is another technology that some believe will be more practical and popular than virtual reality: augmented reality (AR). Apple, the world’s richest tech company, is set to launch its highly anticipated AR glasses within the next few years. Apple CEO Tim Cook recently said in an interview that augmented reality is “a profound technology that will affect everything”, and Snap founder and CEO Evan Spiegel also recently said the technology is “more immersive” than virtual reality.
If virtual reality continues to have a public relations crisis, a growing number of tech companies could begin to bank their investments on augmented reality.
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