We all love BIG ideas. They inspire us. They drive us to better ourselves and the world around us. But with them comes jargon & acronyms, appearing out of thin air. They get overused, under-explained, and over-hyped before ultimately blending into our day-to-day vocabulary. Welcome to the Metaverse – a buzzword salad that is full of hype that poses big questions.
Is the Metaverse ready to go? How are companies making money from it? Is it just vaporware? Are we building the plane as we are flying it? Let’s find out.
The Metaverse promises more than it can deliver
No one really knows where the Metaverse will actually end up. Collectively, we see the technological dots connecting somewhere in the distant future. The talk is on Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and gaming, all coming together underpinned by the financial foundations of the blockchain and NFTs. In this Utopia, we have vision boards that define new landscapes and environments, where we have defined digital ownership, be it art, virtual land, or the next profile picture of a slightly less jaded Ape that can be exchanged for virtual currencies in virtual marketplaces. The core technologies behind the Metaverse, however, paint a different story.
We have technologies that are still not ready for mainstream usage. Users of Virtual Reality continue to report a raft of troubling side effects, including nausea, disorientation, and even seizures. Augmented Reality glasses, so full of unfulfilled promise through Google glasses, dropped off the radar but are making a resurgence with Apple’s release rumored to be c 2025. Equally, the blockchain still has variable costs of transactions, very limited scalability, and is subject to headline-grabbing scams.
While these technologies are actively addressing these issues head-on, how long do we have to wait? The promise of the future is way behind reality and rests on the shoulders of the early adopters.
The Metaverse is full of hopium and needs a reality check.
The Metaverse is seen by many, especially in the web3 community, as the Utopian future that enables a shift in the power base from centralized faceless multinationals to decentralization. In this brave new world, individuals can keep and sell their own personal data, disrupting and even removing their centralized counterparts. The commercial reality is somewhat different.
Major brands and corporates generate scale in any new technologies if they choose to adopt them. They bring distribution, drive traction and encourage funding. But larger brands can’t fly by the seats of their pants – they need risk-managed structure.
Major brands have conservative Institutional shareholders that control our pension plans. Brands need scale to drive revenues and profitability, and for them, it’s about risk management. Major brands cannot act recklessly unlike their startup counterparts.
The technology startup mantra is to ask for forgiveness, not permission. Fearlessly, they smash barriers with youthful exuberance. Compliance and financial risks often don’t feature in their agendas, nor do their customers.
Customers don’t care about technology; they just want great experiences.
Web 2.0, for all its flaws, taught us that customers drive success, not technology. Design thinking and user experience are de facto design standards – and with good reason.
According to a Google Academic study from a few years ago, you have 50 milliseconds to impress a user. User expectations are very high, perhaps too high. While early adopters tend to be more forgiving, new users are not.
The financial layers of the Metaverse, blockchain, and NFTs have a very steep learning curve due to their complexity. In late 2021 Gary Vee, the global influencer, urged newcomers to do 50 hours of research before buying their first NFT. This is an unacceptable friction point.
The Metaverse makes sense if and when the dots connect. The reality, however, is that it will take much longer and cost much more than most believe – and open-ended timelines require open-ended checkbooks – an unpalatable combination.
Major brands will go all in, driving the scale the Metaverse needs, once risks have been reduced to acceptable levels. We are far from those ideals.
In the meantime, whether approaching the Metaverse from web 2.0 or from web 3, we are still building the Metaverse as it is flying, which creates major challenges for mainstream adoption.
Big Ideas do take time. Let’s hope the mainstream market doesn’t lose patience in the interim.
Michael Peres (Mikey Peres) is a serial-entrepreneur, software engineer, journalist, tech-investor, and author, best known for founding various technology, media, and news startups.
Peres leverages over a decade of engineering and leadership experience to advise aspiring entrepreneurs in developing the mindset to build, grow and scale successful businesses.
Peres has also authored The Road Less Traveled, where he provides insight for aspiring entrepreneurs by documenting the obstacles he faced, how he overcame them, and how others can develop the critical skills needed to take charge of their own future.
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