The metaverse has definitely lost its speed, but is it dead? | Entrepreneur
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The Metaverse: an immersive virtual world where we can interact with each other using smartphones, PCs, special glasses or VR headsets. A digital world that, until recently, enjoyed enormous hype and enthusiasm for the opportunities it could have presented for businesses and consumers.
The Metaverse arrived with a variety of investment and income opportunities, where users could purchase a wide variety of digital goods and services for their avatars and their own virtual experiences. Ranging from branded accessories to cars in virtual stores and even the ability to purchase virtual land. The NBA’s Brooklyn Nets made sports history as the first professional sports team to broadcast a game in the Metaverse, which they dubbed the “Netaverse”.
Big early bets were also made on the Metaverse. Meta has spent exorbitant sums on its metaverse game. Reality Labs, the division of Meta that hosts Metaverse projects, had cumulative losses of nearly $24 billion in 2021 and 2022.
Related: What is the Metaverse and why is it important for entrepreneurs?
Not as popular as expected
But, as quickly as the hype built around the Metaverse (around the same time Mark Zuckerberg made huge announcements about the future of Facebook being plugged into an immersive 3D world and rebranding the company as Meta), interest has also declined. Evidence of this can be seen by looking at Google search traffic for the Metaverse, which has dropped significantly over the past few months, bringing it back to pre-announcement levels.
Over the span of a few years, tech and entertainment giants have invested heavily in building this virtual world, only to find that most of us don’t have much of an appetite for the metaverse. It seems like we’re much more grounded in reality than tech leaders thought. Retail and air travel statistics confirm that we are returning to the real world after the Covid-19 lockdowns. Most people still don’t understand what the Metaverse is, how it works, or what it means to them, which could be called a pretty big failure considering the huge investment and media coverage that this space has received.
Meta has actively reduced its operations in the virtual world. Both Disney and Microsoft are closing their Metaverse departments. Apple appears to have all but abandoned its virtual reality headset, while Tinder has announced that it will abandon plans for dating in the virtual world.
What was once a potentially exciting business and investment opportunity has become a terribly expensive gamble that seems to have all but failed so far. The Metaverse is looking to turn into a great corporate meltdown, at least for now, with billions of dollars in investments at risk and reputations affected.
Innovators and tech leaders tend to think in terms of the hype cycle: the roller-coaster journey from concept to mainstream adoption. For now, it seems that huge sums of investor money have been spent on a technology whose potential has yet to be realized and may never be.
More recently, Mark Zuckerberg made an announcement to the market regarding Meta’s renewed focus on AI, which could likely be a sign that he is silently killing the Metaverse project and moving away from the vast investments he has made. in this technology. And while Zuckerberg has pointed out that Metaverse is a long-term investment for Meta and has promised to cut back on Metaverse rhetoric, that bet is looking more and more like an example of corporate hubris.
Related: Why Your Business Needs to Prepare for the Metaverse
The metaverse is out and the AI is in it
Generative AI stole the thunder of the metaverse. OpenAI’s actual ChatGPT app is hard to compete with right now, and rightly so. It has immediate and very real and significant uses that can be extremely useful to individuals and businesses. This has a significant impact on results across the world and is not speculative like the Metaverse.
The AI also goes far beyond ChatGPT. It can be categorized into four areas at the moment:
- Automated intelligence: Automates routine and non-routine manual tasks.
- Assisted Intelligence: Helps people do particular tasks faster and sometimes better.
- Augmented intelligence: Helps people make better decisions.
- Autonomous Intelligence: Automates decision-making processes without human intervention.
Whether it’s machine learning, smart apps and devices, digital assistants or autonomous vehicles, AI has a very real reach in today’s and tomorrow’s global economy, helping to avoid the label of being a fad. As a result, it is considered a safer and less risky investment bet.
What needs to change for the metaverse to recover?
For the Metaverse to have a chance of success at some point in the future, consumer education must be at the forefront. Dissolve the mystery surrounding the virtual world and its applications to consumers and businesses.
The enormity of the challenge should not be underestimated. At best, from a user experience perspective, the Metaverse requires hyper-realistic 3D display technology that would be offered by a normal pair of glasses. This virtual world is simply too early in its journey to have any real impact, so it is considered a dangerously speculative and risky investment at present.
The Metaverse isn’t about to just die on the vine overnight. Over time, we’ll stop being asked to spend our time in virtual worlds using goofy avatars to just chat with friends or hang out on digital land we’ve purchased. Virtual spaces will become much more natural and realistic over time. And that is the essential ingredient: time.
I think as it evolves we’ll see it more widely adopted, maybe more narrowly and targeted probably for short bursts, ie really immersive experiences like product launches, concerts , meetings, education and training, dating and much more, rather than the inaccurate or unrealistic concept that we will somehow spend a large part of our waking days in a virtual world.
Related: 5 Metaverse Trends That Will Shape The Next Decade
Is the metaverse dead?
An investment in the metaverse only has the value of the demand for the technologies involved. When the hype was at its peak, there was an argument to be made about the value of an investment (albeit a risky one) in the virtual world, but when that hype dies down and bettors leave, that investment becomes quickly worthless.
Although Meta has confirmed that it remains a long-term priority and large companies such as Siemans, Proctor and Gamble and others are using Metaverse technology for various applications related to their business, no one has yet brought this application or magical experience at the table. for now, probably because the hardware devices needed to achieve this do not yet exist.
So is the metaverse dead? I do not think so. Not yet anyway. It is too early to make that call. It’s not that the real world is back and the online world is a thing of the past, but rather that the two will run in parallel. It’s not that the online universe is going away, but rather that it may have reached its limit for now. If you have an appetite for big, risk-based investments, a passion for cutting-edge technology, and extremely speculative betting, then there’s probably an angle for you to explore in the metaverse, but get some guidance and be extra careful. .