The eventual shape of the metaverse is far from certain, but underlying trends in how consumers value their digital identities and spend money online are already creating far-reaching opportunities and challenges. From retail to banking to advertising, we look at the industries poised to be reshaped by the metaverse. Get the report.
The “metaverse” — a lofty vision of full-fledged societies thriving within vast virtual worlds — could be tech’s next trillion-dollar opportunity.
An increasing number of companies are betting that consumers will soon be earning, spending, and investing their money in shared, highly immersive virtual spaces that both mimic and go beyond what’s possible in real life.
Facebook is so taken by the idea that it changed its name to Meta and said it would spend billions developing supporting technologies. Following the social media giant’s rebranding, earnings call mentions of “metaverse” soared as perplexed corporations scrambled to figure out the opportunities and risks.
The fully-formed online worlds being talked up by metaverse proponents don’t exist yet — though veteran avatar-based social platform Second Life, videogame creator playground Roblox, and blockchain-forward Decentraland hint at what could be in store. Younger generations like Gen Z and Gen Alpha (those born after 2010) look particularly likely to embrace metaverse-style platforms, with surveys indicating that they are putting more and more value on their online identities.
As the concept evolves, the metaverse has implications for — and the potential to disrupt — a wide range of industries, including:
- Real estate
- Financial services
- Workplaces and collaboration tools
The metaverse vision of a next-gen internet would rely on technologies like virtual reality headsets, advanced haptic feedback, 3D modeling tools, and more to power immersive digital environments. And this tech is only getting better and more convenient — for instance, within just a few years, VR headsets have evolved from clunky setups requiring a wired connection to a specced-out computer to user-friendly, self-contained devices.
Many also see a role for blockchain-based tech like non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which can act as digital deeds to prove ownership without the need for a centralized verifying body. These may find uses for enforcing private property rights within loosely-governed virtual spaces, helping to set interoperability standards, and facilitating trade.
How the metaverse eventually pans out is uncertain — excitement could fade if technical hurdles prove too cumbersome or if mainstream consumers balk at investing in digital-only goods and experiences — but if it takes off then it could be a $1T+ market opportunity by the end of the decade, according to CB Insights’ Industry Analyst Consensus. Businesses are right to pay attention.
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