Tech the halls: The 4 trends that defined the yearDecember 27, 2022 | By Anthony Venutolo
You can take this to the tank
One thing felt certain in 2022: EVs are here to stay. They're getting cheaper, more readily available, and the best part? They no longer look like this.
In the U.S., sales, market share and consumer interest grew much faster than the rest of the industry, according to Kelley Blue Book. In the third quarter, a record number of EVs were sold — more than 200,000 in three months, which was a first — and new EVs are still taking market share.
“It’s no longer just ‘which Tesla is available,’” said Brian Moody, executive editor for Kelley Blue Book, in a release, “but rather an industry-wide boom with more EVs on the horizon from Ford, GM, Hyundai, and other manufacturers.”
The year kicked off with General Motors CEO Mary Barra pledging at CES to deliver 30 new EV vehicles over the next five years that have a longer range, faster charging times and are more economical.
Even muscle cars are getting the EV treatment. In August, Dodge unveiled the Charger Daytona SRT EV concept and announced that it would stop producing its gas-powered Challenger and Charger muscle cars altogether by the end of 2023.
And EVs snagged two of the industry’s most coveted crowns in 2022. The Ford F-150 Lightning was named the 2023 Motor Trend Truck of the Year, and Hyundai’s Ioniq 5 EV picked up Motor Trend's SUV of the Year. "It's like a Trapper Keeper with Max Headroom on its cover I might have carried to elementary school, but on wheels,” the magazine's digital director Erik Johnson said of the Ioniq. What child of the '80s — a demo that the Ioniq is practically made for — wouldn't rush out and plunk down hard-earned Benjamins on this?
The metaverse is waiting
Like it or not, we spent a lot of time in 2022 being told that the metaverse was here. The rumblings began in October 2021 when Facebook changed its name to Meta to illustrate how serious it was about dominating virtual worlds. In January, startups in the metaverse seemed to be everywhere, and the metaverse was touted at CES as the next frontier of the internet.
Filled with possibilities, this single, universal virtual world made possible by VR headsets would pave the way for boundless experiences and opportunities.
By the spring, The Sandbox and Decentraland were popular metaverse platforms that attracted large numbers of online visitors. Users started purchasing virtual land plots in virtual worlds for hundreds of millions of actual dollars. But despite billion-dollar valuations, platforms were said to have fewer than 1,000 daily active users, according to Coindesk reports.
So what's happening? “If there's just a place called the metaverse where we sit and do nothing but hang out and talk, that's no better than sitting in Discord,” Web3 gaming creator and influencer Brycent told Decrypt December 18.
The users may not yet be there, but slowly and surely, the tech is coming along. With Meta, Google and even Apple developing their own versions of VR/AR glasses, it may all start to feel normal once these products become more accessible.
And for anyone who may want to see what a potential future metaverse may look like, this conceptual video by Keiichi Matsuda paints a gorgeous, albeit chaotic picture.
What a difference a year makes
Let's just address the elephant in the room. This year hasn't been kind to crypto prospectors.
The year in crypto kicked off with few chinks in the armor, but that was nothing compared to the crypto winter that set in, with a slew of bankruptcies, losses and lawsuits.
But amid the gloom, a defining moment took place on September 15. That’s when the crypto world watched The Merge, when Ethereum transitioned from a proof-of-work consensus mechanism to proof of stake — more secure, far less energy intensive and better for scaling up the network.
The goal was to switch the core of Ethereum’s blockchain without any downtime, and man, they did it. To keep running its $30 billion ecosystem, which includes non-fungible tokens, crypto exchanges and other decentralized applications, it took at least two years of testing.
“The metaphor that I use is this idea of switching out an engine from a running car,” Justin Drake, a researcher at the nonprofit Ethereum Foundation, told CoinDesk in September.
So what of crypto's future? In November, Grayscale Investments, the world's biggest manager of digital currency assets, released the results of a new national survey that looked at how Americans feel about the economy and cryptocurrency in the context of the 2022 election.
More than half of Americans surveyed (53%) agreed that "cryptocurrencies are the future of finance." This includes 59% of Democrats and 52% of Republicans. Some 44% of Americans said that they expect to have crypto as part of their investment portfolio in the future.
Where do token hearts go?
Everywhere enthusiasts turned in 2021 and well into 2022, there seemed to be an NFT offering. Fearing FOMO, marquee brands from Prada to Lamborghini to Starbucks announced their NFTs. As did celebrities. Cities like Miami explored their own NFT strategies, as well as trendy eateries in big cities like San Diego and New York.
Still, the fervor for NFTs cooled amid the crypto winter. Volume on OpenSea, one of the biggest NFT marketplaces, decreased by more than 99%, from $405.8 million on May 1 to $10.3 million by September.
The outlook isn’t all gloomy, however. One report from Juniper Research analyzing the trajectory of NFTs forecast 40 million NFT transactions around the world by 2027, up from 24 million in 2022. It credits the growth to more brands using the metaverse to improve their digital presence, with metaverse-linked NFTs growing the fastest. After all, there are millions of metaverse walls looking for metaverse paintings. All those Bored Apes have to go somewhere, right?