The metaverse may have fallen off its peak hype cycle, but progress advances outside the spotlight. The future metaverse, however, was already in progress as a confluence of trends and changes within digital markets, key enabling technologies, and devices/interfaces.
While these pillars are developing asymmetrically from a metaverse perspective, changes to regulations, standardisation, technological advancements, and new business models will synergistically impact all these areas to keep the metaverse buildup moving forward. This progress is expected to push core (high metaverse engagement) metaverse user growth to 1 billion users by 2030.
ABI Research expects key inflexion points within the next three to four years as developments within the three pillars accelerate the pace of metaverse adoption. This is primarily within the consumer segment that developmentally lags the industrial market. In the consumer space, this growth is expected to push metaverse revenue close to US$50 billion by 2030.
Michael Inouye, principal analyst, metaverse markets and technologies at ABI Research, explains, “While we refer to the metaverse, we shouldn’t place too much value on this term – it is not a market in of itself, and it certainly didn’t start when Facebook changed its name.”
He suggests that the metaverse should be viewed as a useful way to codify ongoing market transitions and industry trends rather than positioning it as a new phenomenon – this is why we remain confident progress toward this future metaverse is still ongoing.
“Artificial Intelligence (AI) has taken the spotlight, but it’s not replacing metaverse it is a critical enabling technology and a catalyst toward this future,” he continued.
New XR devices like Apple’s Vision Pro highlight the potential for spatial computing, which creates a stronger bridge between pre-existing workflows and applications in more immersive environments. Updates to technologies like Wi-Fi (e.g., Wi-Fi 7) will improve wireless tethering between mobile devices and XR viewers – making these devices more accessible to a broader audience.
New business models tied to digital asset ownership will come out of gaming and social media markets (beyond what is happening in Web3), spurring content development akin to what was seen with streaming video.
All these key developments will impact the demands and needs of networks and computational resources, creating new opportunities across value chain players, from operators to hyperscalers, retailers/brands, and industrial companies.
Inouye concludes, “Look at the trends around privacy, shifting power and control to the consumer, industry 4.0, network convergence, live service gaming, etc., and you start to see the clear parallels and pathway toward a future metaverse – even if the future isn’t referred to the metaverse, a similar future is still very much in the cards.”