What Is Metaverse, Why It Matters, and Is It Replacing the Internet?
Metaverse has been a hot topic on the internet ever since Mark Zuckerberg announced about future of Facebook to be in the metaverse and the rebranding of Facebook to Meta. In fact, many other tech giants, such as Microsoft, Nvidia, and similar others also suddenly seem to be involved in metaverse business.
So, what really is metaverse, and why there is so much buzz around it? And is it really going to replace the internet? Well, all such questions and many others are the discussion point of this article. So, let’s jump right to it!
What is Metaverse?
Metaverse can be termed as “a life within the internet” or “virtual world”, which combines different digital technologies, such as virtual reality, augmented reality, live streaming, and similar others, to make users feel like living within a digital/virtual world. Users will use personalized avatars to interact with other people in real-time, play games, go to concerts, work, and shop just like they do in real life.
Just to be clear, metaverse doesn’t exist currently. The main reason is that it requires multiple services to work together to offer the virtual world experience it is meant to serve. You can understand it with the example of your smartphone. You are able to use a smartphone to its full potential due to the availability of multiple apps and services. Similarly, the metaverse is only achievable when multiple services are tied together. This is exactly what we are going to see happening in the near future.
Why Metaverse Matters?
Metaverse is a cool concept, but hard to achieve. But why are tech giants rushing to become the first ones to offer realistic metaverse? Just in 2021, Meta (formerly Facebook) is expected to exceed $10 billion in spending on its research around metaverse technologies.
The bush around metaverse started even before Mark Zuckerberg opened a discussion around it. Millions of people are already opting for avatar-based social gaming platforms and the COVID-19 pandemic has made such platforms a new way of real-time interaction. In addition, tech giants like Google, Meta, Apple, Microsoft, and similar others are also in search of the next “big” thing, and they believe metaverse could be the one.
However, the metaverse is beyond just enhancing virtual reality or gaming experience. Why it matters is because it is expected to change over perspective around the physical world and offer a new way of interacting with each other no matter where we are. Considering globalization, growing video chatting, and similar other tech advancements, the metaverse is meant to elevate all such experiences.
Fig. Facebook workplace projecting VR meeting where participants can even use their real-world computers.
Current Examples of Metaverse
As narrated above, the metaverse we are imagining is not achieved yet, but there are some early reflections of metaverse seen in some areas. For example, both Fortnite and Roblox are considered the early adopters of metaverse mainly because they do fulfill some aspects of the metaverse. They both are avatar-based social spheres, and their millions of users base reflect that they are meant more than just games. Fortnite even managed to generate over $9 billion in revenue just in its first two years.
Other than that, we can also see U.S. Army involvement with Microsoft to set up HoloLens 2 augmented reality headset for facilitating the training of soldiers. In short, there are many other similar examples that reflect early versions of the metaverse, but a lot of work is still required to make it the next big thing after smartphones.
What’s Metaverse Expected Market Arrival Time?
As per Mark Zuckerberg, seeing metaverse become mainstream is still 5-10 years away. However, many others consider that it would take at least a decade. If we look at metaverse market size, it reached $47.69 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach $814.2 billion by 2028. Massive research and development are underway on metaverse, so we can expect gradual enhancement in it with every passing year until it becomes a mainstream technology.
Is It Really Going to Replace the Internet?
Ever since the metaverse term has become a hot topic, it is being narrated as the “replacement of the internet”. But if we look at the core goal of the metaverse, it is meant to “enhance/expand the internet”. In fact, the metaverse is only possible with ultrafast internet. So, how metaverse expands internet can be further cleared with the below table:
|Live streaming or short length videos||Life streaming|
|Images/Videos/Audios/Text||Everything in 3D|
|Profile pic or user ID||Personalized avatar or universal ID|
|2D screen driven by touch/mouse||Natural UI/UX|
In short, the metaverse is meant to elevate our present experience of the internet world and take our digital lives to a whole new virtual world.
Undoubtedly, the metaverse is a game-changer and the world is gradually headed towards it. Currently, it is not clear whether it will be available in the next 5 to 10 years, but one thing is sure that immersive hardware is the key to making it work. That’s the reason that tech giants like Meta, Microsoft, Apple, and many others are investing billions to be the first ones to create AR glasses and other similar products. Whoever wins this race does not ideally succeed in the metaverse race, but it will definitely give an important edge. As a general internet user, all we have to do is wait and see how we are gradually headed into the new era of the metaverse.