Should you believe all the metaverse hype?

Few trends have generated as much buzz as the metaverse, even for the tech industry’s already sky-high hype standards. 

Tech companies, after all, like to present the latest products or trends they are peddling as game changers. Some of them, like the iPhone, fit the description. Others (does anybody remember the Palm Pilot?) come and go while quite a few, like wearables, take time to catch on. 

At Verb we believed to be at the cutting edge of modernity because we had access to color TVs, landline phones, and typewriters, so we certainly appreciate how breakthroughs from the internet to WhatsApp have made our lives easier. At the same time, we have an innate skepticism of Silicon Valley claims that this or that product or trend is going to change our lives. 

So what is the metaverse? And will it live up to the hype? 

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg believes the metaverse is the next frontier that lets you go from watching an event to being part of it. As he says in a Facebook video introducing the social media giant’s move to the metaverse “you are in the experience, not just looking at it.” 

The metaverse is a group of digital and connected places with a heady mix of social media, virtual reality, video conferencing, and even cryptocurrencies where people can meet for work and socializing, according to Bloomberg’s dry but handy definition

Gartner, a business consulting firm and data tracker, expects that by 2025 25% of people will probably spend at least an hour in the metaverse, in activities such as games, shopping, education, and entertainment. Right now, however, 35% of US consumers have never heard of the metaverse, it warns.

Investment has started to flow in. Video game and software developer Epic Games, for instance, raised two billion dollars from investors such as Japan’s Sony to build a metaverse, tech news portal The Verge reports. It’s a drop in the metaverse bucket. The value of the metaverse market could reach 596 billion dollars by 2027, a thirteenfold rise over 2020’s 45 billion dollars, according to projections by Brandessence Market Research cited by Forbes. 

Where does that leave us? With a word of caution and a welcome dose of skepticism. In its survey among US consumers, Gartner found that only 6% feel they know enough to explain the metaverse to others, a signal that short-term expectations about the immediate impact of a technology that remains a work in progress should be tempered, for now.