According to Gartner, a quarter of consumers will spend one hour per day in the metaverse by 2026.
The metaverse is a virtual world in which people can play, socialise, and work. Some of these virtual worlds can be adaptations of real-world places – including landmarks or workplaces – while others are dreamt up by creative individuals.
Marty Resnick, Research Vice President at Gartner, said:
“Vendors are already building ways for users to replicate their lives in digital worlds.
From attending virtual classrooms to buying digital land and constructing virtual homes, these activities are currently being conducted in separate environments.
Eventually, they will take place in a single environment – the metaverse – with multiple destinations across technologies and experiences.”
What differs the metaverse from the kind of virtual worlds that have been available for many years is still being somewhat defined.
Some believe what differentiates a metaverse from a virtual world like Second Life is interoperability, where you can seamlessly bring your avatar and clothing/equipment from one experience to another. Some believe it’s a deep integration with the real world. Some think it’s decentralisation. Some think it’s the immersiveness enabled by VR. Others believe a true metaverse requires a combination of all four.
Jawad Ashraf, CEO of Terra Virtua, commented:
“Gartner’s research underlines our belief that the metaverse will provide an entirely new way to interact with virtual environments and others, in a more immersive and interactive way than previously possible.
It will become a destination for social occasions, work meetings, gaming events, music concerts and so much more.
It may be too early to predict exactly what the metaverse will become, but what we do know is it will open up completely new experiences and enhance our lives.”
Renowned department store Selfridges combined both interoperability and real-world integration with its early metaverse experience. The store recently launched a virtual city alongside designer Charli Cohen where visitors can shop for physical garments in addition to digital versions that can be used across more than 300 other virtual platforms.
The pandemic boosted metaverse interest as people explored new ways to stay in touch and companies sought to safeguard their business in uncertain times. In our predictions for the IoT in 2022, we predicted that more companies will make digital twins of their office spaces and dip their toes into shifting operations into the metaverse.
Gartner, in its report, predicts that 30 percent of organisations will have products and services in the metaverse by 2026.
“Enterprises will have the ability to expand and enhance their business models in unprecedented ways by moving from a digital business to a metaverse business,” explained Resnick.
A report in November from digital asset giant Grayscale found the total valuation of the metaverse could reach a trillion dollars in the coming years and the number of active users has increased tenfold between the start of 2020 and June 2021.
Gartner expects the metaverse to have a virtual economy enabled by digital currencies and nonfungible tokens (NFTs) as “no single vendor will own the metaverse”.
However, Gartner warns the adoption of metaverse technologies is nascent and fragmented and cautions against investing heavily in a specific metaverse.
“It is still too early to know which investments will be viable in the long term, but product managers should take the time to learn, explore and prepare for a metaverse in order to position themselves competitively,” concludes Resnick.