Apple may be stifling development of the metaverse, according to Matthew Ball, managing partner of the venture capital firm Epyllion Co. and author of “The Metaverse and How It Will Revolutionize Everything.”
While Apple appears to be in a position to “thrive in the next era” of more immersive computing, its control over distribution may be crimping the industry, Ball said.
“Apple does not allow for crypto-based virtual worlds,” Ball said on CoinDesk TV’s “First Mover” show on Thursday. “They’re successfully stymieing a specific type of disruptive innovation and category.”
By steering clear of complex virtual worlds, the tech giant is exerting undue influence over “what is available and what isn’t,” Ball said.
The metaverse is an emerging category of computing, which some see as the next frontier of the internet. According to a Pew Research Center study, over 50% of tech innovators and developers predict the metaverse will be further integrated into people’s daily lives by 2040.
Ball said that the iPhone maker sells more smartphones in the U.S. than it does globally and earns a significant portion of its profits from controlling software on its platforms through its control over APIs, or application programming interfaces, which serve as a bridge between two apps. Applications on Apple’s iOS interface require Apple’s approval and must pay a fee to Apple.
The metaverse is not the only sector Apple has seemingly crowded out of its influential app marketplace. It has taken a conservative stance toward crypto and porn, for instance, Ball said.
“If you consider most of the crypto games today, they’re either not available on the iOS app, or they are, but they’re relatively rudimentary,” Ball said. He noted, however, that some of those programs not allowed through the App Store are still available as a “browser experience.”
Apple is in a unique position to shape the future of entire industries, Ball said. And its choices aren’t always entirely consistent. Axie Infinity, Sandbox 3D and CryptoKitties are among the estimated 30 crypto-based games in its app store.
That could in part be due to a “clampdown on business models [and] cloud gaming,” Ball said. “We see them taxing user-generated contributions.”
Apple charges a 30% fee on sales generated on its App Store.
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Ball said Apple users should have more freedom over how they use their devices, citing the identification systems used on iOS devices, which are limited to proprietary options like Apple ID.
Apple limits what users can do and access in favor of curated experiences and with iPhone’s huge market share, that is likely stifling innovation, Ball said.
“No one can capture your identity, your social graph, your data, your virtual assets, and then use that to preclude competition,” he said.
Few now know what the metaverse is, and no one can say what it will develop into. In fact, Ball doesn’t think that term will even be used years from now.
“You’ll find in the years to come that we’re often inside a 3D simulation” perhaps without even knowing it, Ball said.” That is, if Apple doesn’t stifle the metaverse today, he said.
Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
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