Given the fortunes lost to failed crypto exchanges and the boom-and-bust cycle of cryptocurrencies and NFTs last year, it’s tempting to dismiss the much-hyped metaverse as the next big loser for 2023. It’s easy to see why — the name itself was hatched out of science fiction, there’s no single agreed-upon definition, and, like crypto and NFTs, it has sometimes been overly hyped up as something which could quickly transform our world. At the time of writing this, generative AI has already taken over headlines and is tipped as the next shiny toy for marketers. The backlash to the hype cycle, however, is just as overblown as those promises that we’d all be spending our days in the metaverse within the span of a few years.
The metaverse has been described as the next iteration of the web, or more specifically, how we interact with it. In practical terms, the metaverse combines the connectivity of the Internet with spatial computing to create a more immersive web experience. So what, you might ask? Who wants a future of wearing headsets and zooming around virtual worlds when the real world exists in all its multi-sensory glory?
New and emerging technologies are often written off as fads. However, the dismissive reaction many now have toward the metaverse is reminiscent of how many felt about the emergence of the World Wide Web in the 1990s. Search for “Bill Gates explains the internet to David Letterman” and watch Letterman making fun of Gates in 1995. 30 years later, the joke is on Letterman.
In the present moment, many people don’t understand the point of the metaverse. Disruptive innovations are never as good as existing products, in the beginning. Think of the frustrations of the early Internet. Can you hear the dial-up tone slowly making its connection? It’s best to keep an open mind for the future potential of emerging technologies like the metaverse — and why, and how, brands and customers could leverage it in the months, and years, ahead.