Big News from Altspace VR, Apple, Disney, Lloyd’s, and the US Justice Department

Microsoft's virtual platform to close as major groups explore the technology space

XR Big News
Virtual RealityNews Analysis

Published: January 27, 2023


Rory Greener

January is closing, and the extended reality (XR) landscape continues to evolve. Following last week’s theme of layoffs across the tech sector, this week continues the unemployment trend as influential groups reassess the space and US Courts aim at Google.

Although as February rolls on, the industry is finding this year’s footing and discovering the most significant tech trend for the year, which appears to be AI and ChatGPT.

AI and ChatGPT for enterprise is a growing tech topic. Recently, Microsoft entered an extended partnership with OpenAI, the firm behind ChatGPT, to expand the tech solution to business clients.

The solution is seeing integration into XR applications. The wider immersive technology sphere also aims to discover new opportunities by leveraging emerging tech, attaining new partners, and business models.

US Justice Department Against Google

The US Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Alphabet, Google’s parent company, this Wednesday.

In its antitrust suit, the department demands Alphabet to sell its ad manager platform, accusing the firm of illegally dominating digital advertising.

The US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia is hearing the case with the backing of attorney generals from eight states.

The US Justice Department lawsuit claims that Google’s parent firm engaged in the following anticompetitive practices: acquiring competitors, forced adoption of Google tools, distorted auction competition, and auction manipulation.

Regarding the intentions behind the lawsuit, Colorado AG Phil Weiser said:

We are taking action by filing this lawsuit to unwind Google’s monopoly and restore competition to the digital advertising business.

The news follows Google’s parent firm laying off roughly 12,000 individuals last week. Recently, Microsoft and Amazon cut back roughly 10,000 employees, and Meta dismissed approximately 11,000 people.

Microsoft Closes Altspace VR

Last Friday, Microsoft announced it would cease operations of Altspace, a virtual reality (VR) socialization, Metaverse-lite platform.

Altspace VR is officially closing its doors on March 10, 2023. The decision comes following the aforementioned layoffs at Microsoft, which greatly affected its mixed reality (MR) software and hardware divisions.

After Altspace VR closes, its remaining staff and resources will join Microsoft’s Mesh development team. Altspace VR expressed their desire to contribute to developing the Mesh service that offers the “widest opportunity to all involved, including creators, partners, and customers”, the firm said in its concluding “sunset” statement.

Recently, Microsoft released its Q2 earnings report and, despite layoffs, the firm recorded strong figures. The results reinstate the firm’s success in remote collaboration services, as well as Microsoft’s AI and cloud ambitions.

Highlights from the Q2 report include revenues increasing to roughly $52.7 billion, Microsoft Teams now boasting a 280 million active user base, Dynamics 365 revenue decreasing by 21 percent, and Azure OpenAI claiming more than 200 customers.

Apple Teases Reality Pro Specs, Disney/Sony Partnership

On Monday, Apple Inc. began discussions with roughly six significant media partners to launch a virtual reality (VR) content platform for its upcoming headset.

Reports reveal that Apple is talking to the Walt Disney Company to develop a VR platform. The media giant aims to integrate the Cupertino-based firm’s Apple TV+ product lineup on new head-mounted displays (HMDs).

Also, according to the report, Sony will assist in Apple’s VR content platform by providing high-resolution displays and augmented reality (AR) full-colour passthrough.

Lloyd’s Banking Group’s Kirsty Rutter Names Web3 as a 2023 Fintech Trend

Finally, last Thursday, Lloyds Banking Group’s Fintech Investment Director Kirsty Rutter named Web3 as a key fintech trend for 2023.

In the company blog post, Rutter said that Web3 and its integrated systems present a potential for an entirely new commerce model, explaining that Web3 communities provide massive potential for new methods of digital monetization, tokenization, and self-governing decentralized economics.

Rutter’s comments and analysis on the hotly debated Web3, crypto, and blockchain landscape were hopeful. Although, she also said that Web3 evolution would not see completion in 2023. Rutter explained, “it will take longer to reach us all than that.”

Rutter also said that Web3 and community-based digital platforms like these are only available in “small pockets today.”

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