“Virtual reality is the first step in a grand adventure into the landscape of the imagination.” -Frank Biocca
To a stereotypical boomer like me, holding up with the ever-evolving digital world is already challenging. With all this talk about Metaverse... my techno stress has gone through the roof! I can hardly keep up with all these changes.
I just had to get over my techno anxiety and learn about this new phenomenon.
So, what is metaverse?
The term metaverse is the creation of sci-fi author Neal Stephenson who used it in his 1992 book, Snowcrash, where he created a world where avatars meet and interact with each other in a virtual reality environment. At present, most of us navigate websites and apps through the screens of computers, smartphones, and tablets. Metaverse proponents say we’ll use virtual reality (VR) tech to enter the internet tomorrow, moving between virtual worlds in the form of digital avatars. And, as life imitates art, developments in technology have allowed us to create a "phy-digi" online virtual universe combining blockchain, crypto, NFTs, virtual reality, augmented reality, 3-D holographic avatars together on Metaverse.
We are no longer just dreaming of visiting planets with the fleet of Star Trek, we are actually using gaming platforms (Rec Room, Fortnite, Decentraland, and Horizon Worlds) to enter the Metaverse. Of course, this would not be possible without consumer acceptance by Gen Z, Blockchain, crypto currency and leading platforms like Ethereum. Since 2020, the Metaverse has grown to a $655B industry. Based on an annual growth rate of 55%, the Metaverse is expected to reach $800B by 2024 and $13T by 2030. Today's metaverse has been adopted worldwide. There are over 500 companies involved in the Metaverse many including "the usual suspects":
Online Gaming: Roblox, Microsoft, Activision Blizzard
Design Software Industry: Adobe, Autodesk, Unity
Social Networks: Facebook, Tencent
AR/VR Hardware: Lenovo, HP, Logitech, Acer.
But in addition to the players expected to be involved, there are quite a few others that are not anticipated participants:
Luxury: Gucci, Hermes, Louis Vuitton
Fashion: DKNY, Inditex (owner of Zara and other fashion brands), Polo by Ralph Lauren
Sports: Nike, Adidas, NBA
Spirits: AB, Stella Artois
Adult Entertainment: RD Land and Viro Playspace
Yep, pretty much every big brand, every industry and every company are in the Metaverse or figuring out how to enter.
Metaverse and Web 3.0:
Metaverse and Web 3.0 are closely interrelated as they are both parts of an ongoing revolution in how we interact with digital technology. But they are not the same thing. Although both concepts are far from fully formulated, Web 3.0 is a vision of the internet of the future, while the metaverse centers on how users will experience the internet in the future.
Metaverse Target Audience:
According to a March 2022 survey of companies from selected countries that have already invested in the metaverse, big companies, men, and Gen Z are the target audience for the metaverse activities. Here’s more stats…
90% of the users <18 years old with combined buying power of $148B.
1B users access the Metaverse AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality)
2.3 million users use Blockchain regularly for video/online gaming.
Even with technology in its early stages and cost has been a barrier to success--our Gen Zs don’t care! Come hell or high water--they will play, socialize and work in the Metaverse. They want to live in a digital universe, clothe their avatars in digital fashions, create NFT's, and pay with cryptocurrency.
Barriers to Success: As big as it sounds, there are challenges still to overcome:
Network Limitations—it must support collection of applications, computational challenges
Customer Experience - access must be seamless and flawless
Multi-Generational Consumer Acceptance – it may be a clear winner with Gen Z and some Millennials but not with Gen X and Boomers
Hardware Limitations--AR/VR hardware is still in the developmental stage and is expensive
Protocols, Standards, Unregulated Industry: at present, it’s still the wild west—with little-to-no legal standards
Metaverse brings the WOW: Despite the challenges, the Metaverse brings an immersive, realistic and active customer experience. In the Metaverse users not only live in an alternative universe they can create their own world. With the Metaverse we are seeing opportunities to reshuffle wealth, create new influencers, and develop new communities--all across the global spectrum.
Overall, the metaverse is still in its infancy, but it is growing quickly. The next ten years are going to be a time of rapid growth and development. As the metaverse continues to grow and evolve, small business owners need to understand how it works and how we can use it to improve customer experience and create new business models and revenue streams.