Research by Gartner indicates that the metaverse has little support. VR applications do not yet meet expectations in business environments, and “immersive meetings” with avatars do not seem to add value for the time being.
Gartner interviewed 52 metaverse providers and examined 170 implementations of the metaverse concept—the objectives of these parties: to boost productivity or consumer engagement or to address marketing-related challenges. For example, they organize virtual events or allow customers to visit virtual shopping malls.
The youngest generation
The biggest obstacle to the metaverse seems to simply be interest. Without a “killer app,” there is virtually no reason for development to exist. Generation Z (born 1996-2010) is currently the most likely metaverse adopter, but they too are mostly reluctant to jump on the bandwagon. 85 per cent are not interested in metaverse brands, while 43 per cent do not understand the concept at all and therefore stay away.
Pitiful statistics, in other words. It just goes to show why we stated a few months ago that the metaverse is unviable in the short term. Yet we had also stated there is hope for the concept in the long term.
Consequently, Gartner does not estimate that the challenges for the Metaverse will be quickly overcome. VR headsets are physically uncomfortable for most, the researchers point out. In addition, there are concerns about privacy and security, while most VR options are costly on top of those unresolved problems.
It’s therefore unsurprising that Google recently scrapped its VR/AR/XR glasses plans. Facing the already ongoing Meta initiative and the upcoming Apple launch of the Vision Pro, Google must have thought it would be difficult to compete in that arena with its own product, focusing instead on software.
Virtual meetings are a flagship for Mark Zuckerburg’s vision, with avatars and idyllic environments in place of the run-of-the-mill office. However, Gartner sees a lot of user resistance to the “low-fi” nature of the avatars in question: they’re seen as odd and highlight that the technology is still young. In this regard, the researchers are wary of the future: virtual meetings, they say, really need to start looking different if they are not to end up in the virtual trash.
We do well to cite Gartner’s own findings from before this. For example, they stated that one in four individuals will spend an hour per day in the metaverse by 2026. Possible activities include virtual meetings and classes but also creative expressions such as decorating virtual homes.
Even if that prediction does not come true, the expansion of the physical world with a virtual layer above it can be expected to be widely available in the long term. An excellent example of what the future might bring is the Apple Vision Pro, which is moving toward AR rather than VR in everyday use. The price is still sky-high at launch next year, but that’s often true of new product lines.
AR, Gartner believes, is therefore the most appropriate solution for the metaverse’s current challenges. With it, users will not be torn away from reality, but will receive an addition to it. The gaze will thus most likely remain on the physical world, with AR as an integrated layer on top.