When we say eventful, we don’t mean the negative moments that rock the tech world, as many as there are. Tens of thousands of people lost their jobs, big companies were shaken and they showed they weren’t worried at all. But 2022 has been a year of breakthroughs, like the Steam Deck or the Pixel Watch, and each one more impressive than the next. 2022 was certainly a strange year and definitely marked the end of a certain golden age.
Crypto and NFT: back to reality after the party
They encountered great enthusiasm during the Covid years, but these trends have led to a 2022 far from their expectations. It’s hard to summarize this year in detail, but a quick tour should make clear the challenges facing the once-mighty NFTs and other cryptocurrencies.
To implement changes in the sector, you only need to take the course of Bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency. While its price reached $50,000 just a year ago, it lost more than 60% of its value to $15,660 on December 28, 2022.
A monumental downturn, the effects of an uncontrolled general bubble, and an uncertain global economic and geopolitical context. The exit from the world’s Covid crisis, along with many consequences related to the Ukraine war launched by Russia almost a year ago, has shaken many tech players among many other sectors. . The nail in the coffin? FTX, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges, was declared bankrupt in November and its boss, Sam Bankman-Fried, was arrested for fraud.
As a direct result of this route, the NFT market, these immutable images traded on cryptocurrency platforms, has lost a significant portion of its value this year. As reported by AFP, not necessarily the number of sales that decreased (-5% of transactions in the third quarter), but the volume of trade and therefore the average value of the sale.
In the third quarter, sales fell a significant 77% from $7.3 billion to $1.67 billion. If the sector has lost much of its value, it has partially responded to the main criticism of it: its pollution is considered too important.
For example, the Ethereum platform launched The Merge, a major software update, last September. According to an article with success and without any problems The Verge. Merge made cryptocurrency mining (and therefore the use of many power-hungry graphics cards) obsolete and reduced Ethereum’s CO₂ emissions by 99.9%.
The Metaverse was the promise of a digital intelligence renewal, notably led by Mark Zuckerberg. The founder of Facebook changed the name of his company to Meta at the end of 2021 along with this new strategy. Thus, Meta completes its first year of existence with results well below expectations. Reality Labs division cost the company several billion dollars for its development. This year’s results were no match, more laughs than awe.
Evidence of this is that the company’s shares, which are still worth $338 at the end of 2021, are slightly below $117 at the time of writing, even though they experienced a period below $100 between late October and early November. Yes, the metaverse has had a rough year. Admittedly, Meta is not the only company that has positioned itself in the segment, but the disproportionate investment in this technology has partially overshadowed the competition.
Therefore, from this year we will remember a release teased by Horizon Worlds from 2022. Presented as a revolution, the virtual reality universe was displayed with graphics that were considered very outdated and outdated “ugly”. A complete failure to which the company responded a few months later. The Meta features a more modern finish. Again a bummer because it wasn’t a ready-to-deploy update, it was actually a pre-made video just for reassurance.
Finally, another argument turned into a mockery: footwork. Horizon Worlds offers the ability to control customizable avatars. But they had no legs. Meta finally brought what was missing, brought it to the aid of bombastic communication in the first degree, and caused the joy of many Internet users.
Where Metaverse failed, its support succeeded. Virtual reality headsets have been gaining popularity for two years. And it’s Meta and its Meta Quest that will dictate the rules, as the company’s device will account for nearly 90% of the market share. According to industry analysts, 2022 could see sales of around 13 million helmets. 2023 should experience a similar dynamic, as Apple may finally announce a mixed reality headset.
AI divides as much as it affects
Another technology that wants to simplify life and made headlines this year: generative artificial intelligence. Highly promoted by Open AI and Midjourney companies, such as Dall-E 2 and later with the release of Chat GPT, generative AI is as impressive as it is questionable.
Thanks to advances in machine learning, the Dall-E 2 tool, followed by others used for filters on social networks, for example, provides effective images automatically generated from a set of keywords. If the excitement of discovering these powerful instruments was in full force for a few months, the art world was not getting any stronger.
AI creations currently thrive in legal uncertainty that still worries artists, some of whom have voiced their displeasure on the ArtStation website, calling for better regulation of the generated images. The creation of AI-generated images may indeed harm the (already precarious) employment of artists because of them. Another problem is that the AI would use artists’ creations directly for their learning without their permission. We will still have to wait for strict rules on artificial intelligence, starting with a framework for the ease of creating pornographic images.
Connected devices, the big winners of 2022?
In early November, several dozen major technology companies (including Google, Apple, and Amazon) launched the unique Matter protocol. This technology simplifies the management of connected objects in the home by allowing compatible devices to be managed in one place instead of going through multiple apps and hubs. It will take a few months to see enough Matter-compatible connected devices arrive, but companies are already starting to update their existing facilities. A very practical improvement in everyday life.
Smartwatches, still in connected objects, seem to have finally found their momentum. The market is dominated by smaller brands, especially Indian brands, that offer the bare minimum functionality. But the biggest brands in the sector, such as Apple or Samsung, have really managed to make the necessary changes, especially with the introduction of Wear OS 3. But what about the arrival of our long-awaited Pixel Watch? they were able to test. Google has done a great job bringing a bit more diversity to the sector for the first time.
Let’s end this segment with a quick reference to the case of smartphones. Although many have come out to count them out this year, they don’t deserve their promotion. So 2022 is the year that the public, especially the Chinese for the moment, sees the arrival of one-inch photo sensors, promising more convincing shots. Brands compete in ingenuity to offer not only more powerful smartphones (Qualcomm and Mediatek bring their expertise in chips), but also smartphones that can take better quality photos.
The steam deck applies itself, the OLED and twists branch out
While Nintendo Switch sales are stagnating and the Japanese manufacturer’s console is starting to show its age, Valve has successfully entered the field of portable consoles.
Despite some scares (remember Steam Engines) and confusion at launch, the American publisher’s console quickly captivated its audience and made itself accessible. Not only does it offer a solid and quality design (despite the autonomy that needs to be considered), it also offers the most consistent release catalog for a console. This makes just over 10% of Steam’s catalog available to date, meaning hundreds of compatible and playable games wherever you are. Valve’s plans for the future of the Steam Deck further cement its status as the main console of the moment.
Other brands have shown their desire to position themselves in the portable console segment. Logitech or Razer announced this year their consoles specialized in cloud gaming: Logitech G Cloud and Razer Edge.
However, questions arise. Does the strategy of these consoles dedicated to gaming in the cloud, based not on the power of their components, but on the ability to capture a sufficient WiFi or 5G network, without taking into account the subscription prices of the cloud, justify the selling prices above 300 €? gaming services? By the way, one of the leading cloud gaming services, Stadia, will be completely shut down in a few days, on January 18.
Still on the side of everyday items, folding devices have branched out this year. If smartphones continue to take the lion’s share, PC makers like Asus and Lenovo have tried their hand at the exercise with the Asus Zenbook 17 Fold and Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold respectively. It will take a little more time to improve the recipe and above all to make it available (this kind of computer sells for more than €3000). It’s the same story for foldable smartphones, whose models are on the rise but so far limited to the stables of Samsung and Huawei in Europe.
To finish this tech overview, we saw the arrival of external OLED monitors in 2022. If the technology is not new, the monitor market has not yet been affected by this process. Dell was the first brand to launch earlier this year with the Alienware A3423DW gaming monitor. Samsung also started showing off the curved OLED Odyssey G8 display at IFA. The problem is that these monitors are still very expensive to buy, with prices above 1,300 euros. The South Korean brand LG has also provided its own solution by offering a smaller and above all more affordable screen announced for under $1,000.
In a few days, the new edition of CES, the first physical edition in three years, will open in Las Vegas. A real industry barometer that allows you to measure the temperature already and find out what the trends of 2023 will be in the world of technology.