Emirates News Agency – Tech giants vs small players on metaverse, victory still uncertain: Sofie Hvitved

By Binsal Abdulkader

ABU DHABI, 17th November 2022 (WAM) — Although big technology dominates the existing digital space, the metaverse – a virtual reality space where users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users – is likely to provide more room for small businesses, a consultant told the Emirates News Agency (WAM).

However, it’s still uncertain whether small players will win the race against big tech in the metaverse, said Sofie Hvitved, futurist, senior consultant and head of media at the Institute for Future Studies in Copenhagen.

The metaverse as an open, decentralized space?
In an interview with WAM at the World Media Congress in Abu Dhabi, he said that in addition to the big technologies that have already made huge investments in the metaverse, many smaller companies have also joined the fray. “This trend shows the potential of the metaverse to be a more open, decentralized and democratized space, but the future will reveal the reality,” the consultant added.

“I think that’s one of the big uncertainties right now. Who will be the winners – those who control and build the metaverse – is not very clear now; because many different stakeholders are testing different models,” Hvitved explained.

“Due to the current global economic downturn, many companies will collapse and die,” he pointed out, adding, “So many people who are testing this (metaverse) may not be successful. As we have seen now, power dynamics change, new companies get bigger, big companies get smaller. We need to pay attention to these changes.”

Consumers are demanding more from great technology
When asked if the dominance of big tech was still intact, despite the shifting power dynamics she cited, Hvitved said the market share of some tech giants has declined, although they are still big players. “They could go up again, but somehow the public is starting to ask for new things,” she noted, referring to consumer concerns about the management of property by large multinationals: technologies, algorithms, etc. We don’t want it anymore. We want more transparency, more ownership, more control.

Such consumer requests, according to the expert, could push the market in a different direction. “We are observing tectonic shifts. We absolutely have to pay attention to it. Do investors believe it? Even the belief in big tech is fading a bit at the moment,” he said.

Optimistic note on the metaverse
When asked if she hopes the digital space, especially the metaverse, becomes more democratic on a level playing field, Hvitved said, “I will say there is hope. The media industry needs to consider who they work with, their value systems, how they treat customers and have good relationships with them,” she reiterated.

He pointed out that trust is the biggest problem within the media industry and that trust in these institutions is starting to wane. “So we need to figure out how we can begin to demonstrate that they can be trusted,” she said.

Hvitved confirmed that the trust factor is very relevant as big tech companies hold millions of customer data.

He spoke about “Investing in the Metaverse: How will media companies benefit and what is the expected return on investment” at the World Media Congress.

First edition of the World Media Congress
The inaugural World Media Congress was inaugurated on Tuesday in Abu Dhabi under the patronage of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Presidential Court, His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The three-day exhibition-conference organized by ADNEC Group in collaboration with WAM ends on Thursday.

Under the theme “Shaping the Future of the Media Industry”, the Congress brought together more than 1,200 media industry pioneers, specialists and influencers from six continents around the world, with more than 30 talks and workshops with more than 162 world-renowned speakers .

Translated by: Mervat Mahmoud.



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