The metaverse has taken a back seat in terms of media attention and investor sentiment about the future of the technology. However, companies continue to pour billions of dollars into the hardware and software that will allow people to connect in a virtual space. That suggests there might still be some investment opportunity to be had here.
If you’re interested in the companies leading the way on the metaverse, three big tech companies should be front and center in your research. Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), Meta Platforms (NASDAQ: META), and Unity Software (NYSE: U) are the standout leaders in the metaverse today.
Whether it intends it or not, Apple is a leader in the metaverse. The company creates and sells some of the devices consumers will use to interact virtually, whether that’s smartphones and computers or next-generation virtual reality headsets like the Vision Pro.
Apple will also play a role in the creation and capture of virtual spaces. Most Apple iOS devices now include LiDAR, which helps map rooms or give spatial information about how far distances are in a virtual space. Apple’s Augmented Reality Kit (ARKit) is also a leading platform for digital assets, and it’s built into hundreds of millions of devices.
The metaverse is going to need hardware to interact with the virtual space, and Apple will be at the center of that hardware race. Apple may not build the metaverse, but it will build the devices we use to get there.
2. Meta Platforms
Meta Platforms changed its name from Facebook to tell investors this is now a metaverse company. Mark Zuckerberg is spending over $10 billion per year building the hardware and software to make his vision a reality. So far, it hasn’t led to financial success or widespread adoption, but that hasn’t stopped Meta Platforms.
The Meta Quest 3 is Meta Platforms’ latest virtual reality headset built to interact with metaverse assets the company is creating. It’s hard to call this device (or VR in general) a success for Meta, but it may lead to the technology that ultimately becomes successful.
Meta’s Ray-Ban sunglasses are an example of where this technology could be used in more devices. They are capture devices today, but will likely add AR features in the future, bridging the digital world and physical world in ways that may be more natural than with Quest or Apple’s Vision Pro. Meta is also beginning to incorporate artificial intelligence, which could be revolutionary in the metaverse. Users could ask the AI to make a virtual call to someone, create 3D assets, or pull up a sporting event or TV show in the virtual world.
Meta Platforms may not be the dominant VR company a decade from now, but it’s hard to argue this won’t be a connective tissue in the metaverse, and that’s not a bad place to be.
3. Unity Software
There are two game engines vying to be the metaverse leaders, Unity and Unreal. Unreal, made by Epic Games, has become the better high-fidelity game engine, but Unity’s claim to fame is as the preferred tool for making iOS games and VR content, and it is a preferred partner of Vision Pro at launch.
Unity has struggled to find its footing as a public company as its business model has changed and advertising revenue hasn’t taken off as hoped. These are challenges management needs to overcome, but Unity’s value to metaverse developers is not in question.
This is still the leading game engine for virtual worlds, and I think it’s more likely Unity’s quality improves than developers switch to Unreal wholesale.
The future of the metaverse
What we don’t know is what the metaverse will look like a decade from now. Will it be a “place” we go to meet friends and do business, or will it be more like a 3D conference call?
No matter where we go in the metaverse, Apple, Meta, and Unity will be major players. For investors, that provides a lot of upside and optionality.
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Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Travis Hoium has positions in Apple and Unity Software. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Apple, Meta Platforms, and Unity Software. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
3 Top Metaverse Stocks to Buy Now was originally published by The Motley Fool