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In this week’s What’s Appening, it’s all about the future. Kicking off with news from Solana, we look at the announcement of a new web3 smartphone due out next year. Featuring everything from a dApp Store to a built-in crypto wallet, will it be the device that gives web3 its “iPhone moment”? The future of Netflix doesn’t look so rosy right now, but it hopes to win new subscribers with a cheaper subscription, although it will come with ads. Meta, Microsoft, Sony, and others are planning for the future of the metaverse, and they have announced a collaboration to foster common standards for the virtual worlds. Our Stat of the Week has a big prediction from Mark Zuckerberg about the year 2030. And What’s dAppening looks at Instagram’s careful roll-out of NFTs on the platform.

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Takes 🎬

📲 3️⃣ Solana Mobile – Backers of Solana Blockchain Are Building a Web3 Phone

Solana Labs is building a web3 smartphone called Saga, one that could lead to exciting opportunities for developers to broaden the web3 ecosystem, which is currently poorly served on mobile. The Android handset, which is expected to launch in early 2023 at a cost of $1,000, will feature a built-in crypto wallet, a web3 dApp Store, Solana Pay, a Seed Vault (to store private keys), and the Solana Mobile Stack (SMS), the latter of which is a software development kit for building web3 programs. Some in the Solana Community have hailed it as web3’s “iPhone moment”, which is quite the statement for a device they haven’t seen yet. But there is good reason for the excitement among web3 enthusiasts, not least that the Solana Foundation is creating a $10 million fund to encourage the development of apps on its SMS (couldn’t they have picked an original acronym?). It’s also something of a win for proponents of a decentralized web: Unlike the Web 2.0 app stores, the web3 dApp Store will have no extraction fees. But we should also throw a little water bucket of skepticism over Solana’s fire. For a start, it’s not the first web3 phone: Several attempts have been made in the past to launch ‘crypto phones’, and, well, they sucked. Moreover, Solana is not what we would call the most reliable of blockchain networks – it has had five major outages and counting this year – although we should give it some credit for being one of the most climate-friendly blockchains. Still, while it might not be nailed on to be an “iPhone moment”, it could be a Blackberry one, encouraging other manufacturers (👋Apple, Google) and perhaps even rival web3 networks (👋👋Ethereum) to start truly putting their energies into mobile devices that can support, nourish, and expand web3 infrastructure. #BetterCallSolana Read more here.

💸 📺 Netflix – Ad-Supported Subscription Tier Coming Before the End of 2022

Last week, we wrote about how social media was moving away from the ad-only business model into a new era of subscription revenues. So there’s a nice bit of symmetry this week when we see that Netflix is (kind of) going in the other direction. This has been on the cards for a while, of course, rumored ever since Netflix started seeing those subscriber numbers dip (slightly) and its stock price fall (a lot) in Q1 2022. It remains the world’s largest TV streaming service with 222 million subscribers, but CEO Ted Sarandos reckons the platform can reach an untapped market – those who would be willing to subscribe to Netflix with adverts at a reduced rate. While some might claim this is a Hail Mary pass for a platform facing more subscriber number woes further down the line, it’s worth noting that Disney+ is also trotting out similar plans. No details yet on what the cost of the ad-supported plans will be, but we’d guess it will be somewhere close to ad-supported rival Hulu which has plans from $6.99 per month. Both Netflix and Disney+ are expected to launch the new ad-supported tiers by the end of the year. #NetflixAndBill Read more here.

🌍 🕶️ Metaverse – Big Tech Companies (With Some Big Exceptions) Make Interoperability Pact

Last week, Meta, Microsoft, Adobe, Sony, Epic Games, Nvidia, Qualcomm, and several other companies working on metaverse projects formed an alliance, of sorts. The Metaverse Standards Forum (they could have come up with a cooler name) was launched to ensure interoperability among, well, metaverses. The group’s goals are based on codifying a set of standards for the metaverse, and members will start meeting from July onwards to conduct hackathons and launch open-source tools to ensure these virtual worlds have a level of compatibility. Crucially, the Worldwide Web Consortium (WC3 – the guys who set standards for the internet) is on board as a member. But you’ve probably noticed that there are some conspicuous absences, Apple and Google being the most obvious ones. Apple’s absence, in particular, has caused the rumor mill to crank into gear. It’s the worst kept secret in tech that Apple is working on AR/MR hardware, which will put it in direct competition with Meta’s line of metaverse hardware, and some have opined that Apple wants to keep a distance from Meta’s vision of a virtual world. While it is part of other standards groups, including FIDO and Matter, Apple does tend to do things its own way. #MetaOffWithoutYou Read more here.

🧐 Stat of the Week – 1 Billion Metaverse Inhabitants By 2030

Speaking of the metaverse, what are we going to call those who enter these virtual worlds? “Metaverse users” doesn’t sound quite right. Anyhow, our Stat of the Week looks at a big call from Mark Zuckerberg, who believes there will be 1 billion – let’s call them metaverse inhabitants – by 2030. The figure and date seem a little too ‘perfectly round’ for us to believe Zuckerberg is basing the prediction on cold, hard data. But we thought we would highlight it this week given that the formation of the Metaverse Standards Forum might act as a catalyst for some of these metaverse projects to really take off in the near future. #MetaverseOfMadness Read more here.

🕸️ What’s dAppening?

A dApp is a decentralized app. Here’s the latest in web3, nfts and blockchain apps.

📸🤳 Meta – More Testing of NFTs on Instagram Stories with Spark AR

Back in May, Meta-owned Instagram announced it would be conducting a testing phase with NFTs, allowing select creators to showcase and share NFTs on their feeds. This week, the social media platform announced it would be taking things a bit further, introducing more testing of NFTs through the use Spark AR Studio – Meta’s software tool that creates augmented reality experiences – in Instagram Stories. There was also further confirmation from Meta that Facebook would soon be supporting NFTs. Much of this is in line with what Instagram boss Adam Mosseri promised in May. Back then, Mosseri stated that Instagram (and Meta generally) would take a cautious approach to rolling out NFT functionality. As a centralized platform, Instagram would have to “start small” and “learn from the (decentralized web3) community”, Mosseri claimed. While that’s a respectful approach, it still leaves us without a full insight into Meta’s grand plan for NFTs on its platforms. We will report back when it takes the next one of these NFT baby steps. #InstaNFTs Read more here.

Meanwhile at 3Advance…

We’re just back from NFT.NYC, and we can confirm that yes, decentralization IS hot right now. Despite the recent slump (understatement?) in crypto, there is still huge excitement in the space, and the “the Super Bowl of NFTs” did not disappoint. Yes, there were Bored Apes, CryptoPunks and a slew of other wannabe NFT next-big-thingers… But behind the carnival is what really excites us – utility. From ticketing to property, NFTs will most certainly be your future keys to not only unlock metaverse content, but real world benefits too. NFT.NYC was the first time we saw this in action, from hotel room bookings to VIP access to the The Matrix party at Industria, Brooklyn.

Paul and Darren were there predominantly to meet with a certain super-secret client that is currently in stealth mode – let’s just say it involves video NFTs, and a platform for buying and trading these digital collectibles. It was also amazing to meet with other folks building on Flow blockchain, the energy efficient blockchain touted by Dapper Labs. While we mingled at the Dapper Labs Partner event, back at the office the final integration of the new Dapper Wallet was getting wrapped up by our team in DC. We can’t wait to show this one off in the coming months…