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We’re all aware of the headwinds facing startups and the broader economy, and we’re excited about the inevitable innovation that will be driven by first-time entrepreneurs pursuing new opportunities (more on this in the coming weeks). And so rather than putting a number of related predictions for 2023 in front of you right now, we're kicking off 2023 with a twist on last year’s edition: one storyline and one take.
Today, we’re talking collectibles.
The (art) show must go on, and consolidation across the sector will dictate how that manifests itself.
The Story: Where do NFTs go from here?
We all know the web3 space has taken a beating. But having worked with some incredible brands, entrepreneurs, and artists over the last year working on interesting projects across sports and entertainment, I’m not ready to say the opportunity is dead. There does, however, need to be thoughtfulness applied when trying to engage and excite fans and collectors.
Case in point: My husband — a die-hard Patriots fan — braved a freezing December night to go to the Pats vs Bills game in December. He received an email after the game letting him know he could claim an NFT of his ticket. Despite being on the collectible bandwagon early, there was zero excitement generated from receiving this momento. Aside from being emblazoned with Pat Patriot, there just wasn’t any reason for him, a perfect target, to be excited about it. It might as well have been a run-of-the-mill marketing email you archive before reading.
I’m admittedly very attached to the analog — I take notes in a paper notebook, I’m putting together photo album books for my two boys, and there’s nothing I love more than a tangible piece of memorabilia. That said, enhancing my paper collections with digital memories still seems pretty cool to me, and the data shows there are millions of others who feel the same way.
There are so many platforms out there backed by smart, talented people that have the infrastructure to deliver novel and considered works. NFTs continue to have the potential to be a valuable tool in a brand’s toolkit; but in order for that to be true, purveying companies need to create something that goes beyond the afterthought, and delivers real value to the holder. So this year I’m looking out for who will recapture the promise of the digital collectible space, and create the blueprint to engage and inspire today’s fans.
The Take: Apple makes digital collectibles happen.
In 2011 my creative agency was recognized by a number of design outlets for letterpressing QR codes onto our business cards. When scanned, they were supposed to drop our contact information onto the scanner’s device. At the time it was a novel idea and execution.
It worked horribly.
Why? There were approximately 12,498 different QR code scanning apps, all of which resulted in a different outcome. It wasn’t until 2017 when Apple natively embedded QR code scanning capabilities into its camera app that the QR code use case really took off.
Fumbling with any sort of digital wallet reminds me of that time. I own precisely two NFTs, neither of which I ever really look at or have the means to “flex.” And so they live within the realms through which they were purchased, destined to become internet detritus like most digital assets out there.
Fast forward to the other day when I got a notification from my Photos app about a Memory I might be interested in. I was. The 60 second AI-generated slideshow of my son’s first Christmas was a delightful distraction, got me to send my partner photos from the day, and back I went about my business.
It turns out we all already own digital assets that live in fallow spaces. But there is one behemoth with over 1 billion active devices globally that has figured out a way to make those pixels elegantly come back to life.
With consolidation on the way in the NFT space, it seems to be just a matter of time before the decentralized becomes centralized in the Wallets app in my pocket. I’m predicting movement on Apple’s part to make digital collectibles happen as they have so gracefully done so with other nascent technologies.
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