What is a “metaverse” and how profitable will it be for tech companies? It depends on who you ask, the corporate equivalent of the Rorschach test.
The generally accepted definition of the concept is a digital experience created by virtual reality, streaming video, mobile games such as Roblox Inc. RBLX, mixes .
and “Fortnite,” cryptocurrencies, social media, 5G, artificial intelligence and email. In short, a Sargasso Sea of tech buzzwords that predates a digital replica How do we live in the physical world?
“It is as with anything in technology: everyone defines an emerging market that best suits their strengths and needs,” Zeus Keravala, lead analyst at ZK Research, told Businesshala. “Whoever wins always turns that experience into his wall.”
When Mark Zuckerberg acquired Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. K shared his version of FB,
The idea of the Metaverse last month, he said he didn’t want it to be a “walled garden” but to be part of a larger, open ecosystem. This is Apple Inc. There was a subtle dig at AAPL,
Zuckerberg delivered one of several while promoting the openness of the Metaverse in the Facebook rebrand.
Apple’s opponents Epic Games Inc. and Facebook see the metaverse as a way to attack Apple from a financial, strategic and legal point of view. But Dioselin Gonzalez, a mixed-reality consultant and former chief software architect at Microsoft MSFT,
Research, believes most corporations are engaged in a desperate land grab for a piece of the Metaverse market so they can turn it into their own version of Apple’s App Store or Alphabet Inc.’s GOOGL.
Don’t miss: Why is ‘the metaverse’ the most popular tech term? Apple has something to do with it
“Facebook warns of closed Apple Store, but will have its own walled garden with metaverse based on its history,” she told Businesshala.
At a technology conference in South Korea this week, Epic Games Inc. CEO Tim Sweeney compared Metaverse to a universal app store that works on all operating systems and offers developers an alternative to Apple and Google’s dominance of the smartphone economy. Epic, one of the leaders in the emerging metaverse space with its popular “Fortnite” game, has sued Apple and Google for antitrust behavior in federal court.
“In the coming decades, the metaverse has the potential to become a multi-billion dollar part of the world economy, the same for all companies worldwide,” Sweeney said. “Apple and Google policies prohibit other companies from creating the metaverse so that they can dominate and tax it themselves. We must not let these two companies dominate our digital lives.”
The “multitrillion-dollar” potential of the metaverse, as outlined by Sweeney, underscores investors’ concern about varying definitions of the metaverse: the market is widely predictable.
According to Businesshala Intelligence, the metaverse market is expected to be an $800 billion market by 2024, illustrating its vast assets and wide range of technologies. Roblox CEO David Baszucci, meanwhile, projects a total addressable market of roughly $200 billion or more across the categories of mobile, streaming content, and social media.
There are far more audacious estimates — Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Novak vaguely referring to the $8 trillion total addressable market among US consumers — that come with a number of caveats. Adoption “will not be fast or easy,” says Novak, due to uncertainty over the Metaverse experience, consumer mistrust of Facebook with their personal and enterprise data, and Facebook’s lack of enterprise tools expertise.
A Multiverse of the Metaverse
For now, nearly every company defines the Metaverse as it harnesses its strengths, says Jacob Navok, CEO of Zenvid Technologies, a maker of advanced interactive streaming technology. For Facebook, it’s the company’s social media prowess. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella hooks up his HoloLens device to the Metaverse, while Walt Disney Co. DIS,
CEO Bob Chapek sees Disney+ as a replica. Sweeney describes the “Fortnite” experience as a metaverse because it’s a virtual 3-D space that mixes gaming and nongaming elements.
“People find it difficult to define the metaverse as a grand, theoretical thing with a capital M,” Alex Howland, president of Virbela, which develops 3-D virtual platforms for remote collaboration, told Businesshala. Virbela’s holding company is eXp World Holdings Inc. EXPI is
“It’s probably better to think of it in terms of sub-metaverses that serve specific markets in gaming, enterprise and elsewhere.
“Truthfully, it will take at least 10 years,” he said.
The purest play in the slowly evolving metaverse is probably Roblox, makers of immersive videogames where players can accessorize avatars with virtual gear and use it in a variety of experiences. The company, which went public in March, calls itself a “human co-experience platform.”
Learn about Roblox: 5 things to know about the tween-centric gaming platform
More important, Roblox is considered a building block of the metaverse because its software, popular among tweens, gives users and developers the tools to create 3-D digital worlds.
“Human co-experience, which we call category, may take some time to build up but we think this convergence of technology [mobile gaming, video-streaming, and social media] could be bigger than all three of those markets combined,” Baszuki said during the company Investor Day on Tuesday.
A premium on image-drawing technology in the metaverse also favors chip makers Nvidia Corp. NVDA,
and Qualcomm Inc. qcom,
As well as Unity Software Inc. You,
At its GTC developer conference in November, Nvidia added more capabilities to its collaborative engineering and modeling Metaverse platform. This includes the ability to create “digital twins” of cars, robots and other real-world projects to help speed development.
Opinion: This is how Nvidia plans to make a lot of money from the Metaverse
“Every non-tech company we’ve been talking to – apparel, entertainment, IP – is working on Metaverse strategies,” Mike Rubin, CEO and founder of developer Dreamium Labs, told Businesshala. “Some are already dabbling through the world of NFTs.”
The fully immersive metaverse experience requires specialized hardware and software technology to mesh a lot of moving parts. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality is just one entry point for a fascinating mix of applications in NFTs, Artificial Intelligence, 5G networks, edge computing and cloud computing. And the entry point starts with the smartphone before it graduates to the headset.
Freedom comes from replacing smartphones, but in five years the prospect of virtual headsets replacing smartphones is next to none, Navok and others say. (Apple is reportedly working on its own glasses and/or headset.) Yet it has given many companies a squishy timeline on the emergence of the market, its reliance on buzzwords, despite confusion over what exactly constitutes a metaverse strategy. Nothing has been done to stop him from complying. A metaverse, and some downright crazy guesses on the size of the market.
from inside a virtual private jet
From inside a virtual $47 million private jet, Mytaverse co-founder Kenny Landau offers a tour of the future and a cautionary shot for corporate participants in the market.
“Facebook is trying to co-opt the Metaverse with a version of its own Metaverse,” he said during a virtual interview inside Jet. “But a big company like Facebook or Microsoft needs to democratize the experience and make it inclusive.”
Mytaverse, a startup that emerged at the start of the pandemic, is one of hundreds of companies competing in the Metaverse constellation. Mytaverse’s platform was recently acquired by PepsiCo Inc. was used by PEP,
Amazon.com Inc. To have a meeting with representatives of AMZN,
AWS and Microsoft.
Facebook’s high-profile rebranding and the recently released Ray-Ban Stories Glass have come a long way towards establishing their authenticity in the budding market. (The company’s first “completely augmented reality glasses,” announced last month, are code-named “Project Nazar.”) But company executives, from Zuckerberg to the rank-and-file, are calling the meta an interconnected place as part of. Forum.
Opinion: You still call it Facebook, but the stock is getting a lot of ‘likes’ as a meta platform — for now
The newly rebranded Meta enters its next phase of trying to put a new name on the technology’s latest iteration. But in making their latest take on virtual reality, Silicon Valley and Facebook face a year-long effort in which Apple and Google will largely remain in power for many years as smartphones remain the primary point of entry into the metaverse, according to Novoc. And others protest.
“The assumption is that Facebook is the Metaverse, or the Metaverse is the equivalent of Facebook. But in its current state, Meta as a company cannot own or create the Metaverse,” said the tech futurist Kathy Hackl told Businesshala. “No company will own or define the Metaverse.”
As a result, he said, Fortune 200 companies…