Most people think “the metaverse” is a virtual place. It’s Not a Place, It’s a Time, a moment in time. In artificial intelligence, there’s an idea of “the singularity”. It’s a moment in time where AI becomes smarter than humans. The moment when artificial intelligence > human intelligence
The metaverse is the moment in time where our digital life is worth more to us than our physical life. This is not an overnight change. It’s a gradual change that’s been happening for 20 years.
Every important part of life is going digital — Work, Friends, Identity, Assets
- Work → From factories to laptops, Boardroom meetings to Zoom meetings.
- Friends → From neighbors to followers (Twitter, Reddit followers matters).
- Games → Playground to Online Games. Kids play Fortnite, Twitch than playground pickup basketball & flag football combined.
- Physical Identity, Looks → Filters are the new makeup. Stories are your personal billboard to broadcast who you are. Your looks in Instagram matters more than your looks in real life
- Cash instruments, Assets → Online Crypto Assets
Bored Apes are the new Rolex. A collection of 10,000 digital images of apes has amassed sales worth millions of dollars in 2021. Sold as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), the Bored Ape NFTs are actually part of a bigger NFT buying trend.
Fortnite skins are the new skinny jeans. Epic Reveals It Made $50 Million From One Set Of ‘Fortnite’ Skins. Through its sales of individual pack of skins, showing just how absurdly profitable Epic, its microtransactions and its IP deals can be.
Nike is heading to the metaverse. On October 27th the company filed new trademark applications for NIKE, JUST DO IT and the swoosh logo. The filings indicate an intent to make and sell NIKE-branded VIRTUAL shoes and clothing.
Play this forward another 10–20 years — we will cross into the metaverse. The moment in time where digital matters more to us than physical. Our attention has been sucked from physical to digital. Our attention used to be 99% on our physical environment. TVs dropped that to 85% Computers to 70% and Phones to 50%.
And where attention goes, energy flows. If 50% of our attention is on our digital screen, then 50% of our energy will go to our digital life. Today it takes some effort to take our phone out of pocket and look at it. Soon, some company will make smart glasses that sit in front of our eyes all day. We will go from 50% attention on screens to ~90%+ That’s the moment in time when the metaverse starts. Because at that moment, our virtual life will become more important than our real life.
Metaverse — It's a THING!
The future of the consumer metaverse — and how tech titans could shape it
Smokin’ meats with Zuck’s avatar… Meta (fka Facebook) has been positioning its “Horizon Worlds” as a building block in the metaverse since 2019. The metaverse = a vision for an internet you can be inside of — from VR learning to meditating under (virtual) Mount Everest. Last week, Meta finally opened its virtual world to every adult in the US. You no longer need an invitation to enter, but you do need a $300 Oculus headset.
- In Horizon Worlds, customizable (but legless) avatars play games and socialize in VR. Meta said users have built thousands of worlds in the app since its beta launch last year.
- Not-quite-metaverse: Still, Horizon Worlds’ launch represents a giant step that Meta’s taken to expand VR, which is key to the meta-future.
Back to the future… Instead of an ’80s sports car, you’re traveling in a virtual yacht. While the fully fledged metaverse hasn’t arrived, here’s how consumers are most likely to engage with it — and how they already are:
- Gaming: The most common meta use case right now. Gaming leaders like Roblox and Fortnite creator Epic see their 2D and 3D digital worlds as constantly evolving meta hubs.
- Working: From Meta’s “Horizon Workrooms” to Nvidia’s “Omniverse Enterprise” and Microsoft’s “Mesh,” tech giants are trying to let you work at the office from home (#AvatarColleague).
- Socializing: Apps like AltspaceVR let you hang in VR locales, from comedy clubs to bars. A Marshmello concert in Fortnite attracted 10M people.
- Shopping: From e-Jordans for your avatar to $650K digital yachts and NFT art for your meta-mansion. Some developers have already built meta-malls where you could shop in VR stores.
Meta-reality is coming… The metaverse market could hit $800B by 2024, as tech powerhouses invest in building it. Meta says it’ll hire 10K people and spend $10B over the next year on its meta-ambitions. CEO Mark Zuckerberg hopes that by 2030 the metaverse will reach 1B people, facilitate hundreds of billions of $$$ of commerce, and support millions of jobs. But even once the tech is mastered, the metaverse faces hurdles to going mainstream. Expensive headsets = barrier. Also, the mental-health toll of spending time in the metaverse is still unknown. So are the myriad effects of wearing headsets for big chunks of your day.