2021 has been an eventful year for the tech industry. He gave us new phenomena, such as the metaverse and the NFT, and also outlined the growing role of the state in this area. The main trends of the outgoing year are in the Interfax review.
If you choose the word of the year in the field of technology, then the loudest will be “metaverse” (from the English metaverse). The term itself is not new – it was invented back in 1992 by American science fiction writer Neil Stevenson in his novel Avalanche. And although tech enthusiasts have been talking about this concept for several years, it received massive recognition in October of the outgoing year thanks to the rebranding of Facebook – the head of the social network, Mark Zuckerberg, announced that the company will now be called Meta, and its focus will be shifted to building the metaverse.
The metaverse is a world in which virtual objects can interact with each other like real ones: with the help of digital twins (avatars), for example, you can hold virtual meeting meetings, attend concerts, study, watch films. Some experts, including Zuckerberg, refer to the metaverse as the next Internet, or Internet 3.0, which provides new experiences not currently available in two-dimensional web pages and applications.
But we must understand that the metaverse is still a rather abstract concept, for the implementation of which not only investments are needed, but also the corresponding level of development of technologies and equipment (the same virtual reality helmets, which are still imperfect and are not cheap for an ordinary user). There are also problems with compatibility between different platforms and content: different companies – Microsoft, Nvidia, Epic Games (Fortnite developer), etc., are participating in the race of future alternative metauniverses, building their ecosystems.
The second place in the trends of the year rightfully belongs to NFT, or non-fungible tokens (non-fungible tokens). This is a unique digital certificate for a certain object (real or virtual), which has gained particular popularity in the art world. Collectors of digital art can now “own” them, despite the fact that they do not have physical status. Moreover, they transfer to NFT and sell anything: from Banksy paintings and NBA Top Shots cards to tweets and gifs.
What is the success? The point is, NFT has revolutionized the art world by allowing digital artists to monetize their work. When a transaction occurs with NFT, the user only buys a certificate (lines of code recorded in the blockchain) confirming that he is the owner of this object. The loudest deal is the work “Every Day: The First 5000 Days” by the American artist under the pseudonym Beeple, which he sold at Christie’s for a record $ 69 million. The painting was the first digital work released as an NFT token and exhibited at a major auction house , and Beeple is one of the three most expensive living artists in the world.
Another major auction house, Sotheby’s, reported that the hype on NFT allowed for record profits for the organization: sales in 2021 amounted to $ 7.3 billion, which is 46% higher than in 2020. The reason is the technology-savvy young collectors who are attracted by the fashion for digital art. About 44% of all participants in Sotheby’s auctions this year were newbies, and the majority (80%) did deals with NFT.