The Metaverse is “Already Here”


Like many other people, small business owners are trying to figure out what the metaverse is; what it might look like down the road; and therefore, how will it impact their businesses.

Bain and Company just released a report – titled “Taking the Hyperbole Out of the Metaverse” – that might help provide some clarity. Read the report, but here are several key takeaways.

• Rather than aligning with sci-fi dreams (or nightmares), the metaverse is already here, and it amounts to “a collection of immersive, collaborative, and interactive environments that span digital and physical worlds and enable us to create, exchange, socialize, and learn.”

• As for the metaverse already arriving, consider this point made by Bain: “Popular gaming platforms today—Fortnite, Roblox, and Minecraft—are becoming more interactive, enable users to create avatars and worlds within them, and deepen the level of immersion players experience by delivering increasingly photorealistic content. They’re also doing this on a massive scale. Each of the platforms mentioned has around 200 million monthly active users, on par with the respective number of subscribers of Amazon Prime and Disney+.”

Those numbers should give everyone pause, including opportunity-seeking entrepreneurs.

• Bain projects that the metaverse’s “first phase of development” will play out over the next 5-10 years, pointing out, “It took more than 10 years for smartphones and gaming consoles to each exit the seed stage and begin scaling up, while it took almost 20 years for the Internet and personal computers, respectively.”

• As the Metaverse Business Alliance has highlighted before, the metaverse is being utilized in the business world in myriad ways. Bain notes that “a suite of emerging metaverse technologies that leverage virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are already providing value. These include applications in areas of high risk (e.g., AR-assisted spinal surgery) and high expense (e.g., jet engine manufacturing) in which interacting with digital models can help improve care or save money.”

• This report highlights five emerging tech metaverse battlegrounds: “virtual experiences, content-creation tools, app stores and operating systems, devices, and computing and infrastructure.”

• Regarding virtual experiences, Bain argues: “Although gaming is currently the leading consumer metaverse application, immersive fitness and entertainment could also be compelling in the medium term. On the enterprise side, innovative use cases are emerging, primarily in collaboration and productivity but also in digital marketing, employee training, education, and healthcare.”

Finally, what are we talking about in terms of numbers? While such projections need to be taken with a big grain of salt, the general direction and size are worth pondering. Bain serves up the following estimate: “We project the metaverse could reach a market size of $700 billion to $900 billion by 2030. Furthermore, the next 5 to 10 years will likely determine the metaverse’s major winners.”

What then should business owners be thinking about on the metaverse front? The Bain report concludes: “While executives can’t ignore the metaverse, neither are we suggesting that every company pivot its entire strategy to focus on this sector. It’s more about making targeted adjustments to existing roadmaps to ensure that the company moves in the same direction as its ecosystem of customers, partners, and competitors.”

Seems like pretty good advice.