The metaverse ecosystem market could be worth trillions, new report suggests

  • ABI Research estimates metaverse-related markets can reach $2tn in global revenue by 2030
  • Despite the bullish forecast, many factors could hamper its commercial uptake
  • There is lot yet to be achieved in terms of standardisation, interoperability and better consumer education, though
  • The real change for the metaverse and digital services will be brought about when mainstream smart glasses hit the shelves, according to the company

The value of metaverse-related market activity could hit $2tn in global revenues by 2030, but there is a risk of developers missing out on lucrative opportunities if the ecosystem fails to implement standards, encourage interoperability and educate consumers, according to a new report from analyst company ABI Research.

Commenting on its findings, ABI principal analyst Michael Inouye told TelecomTV that metaverse-related developments in the streaming video, social media, gaming and digital advertising sectors will be the bedrock of the total addressable market (TAM) for the consumer metaverse, playing a key role in the development of the immersive virtual world.

He argued that the metaverse is underpinned by established trends in the digital content realm rather than the notorious rebranding of Facebook to Meta and, therefore, growth in these markets will be a foundation for the metaverse.

And, if trends within these well-established markets continue, the metaverse is set for significant gains in the consumer space, according to the analyst.

“As more areas of our lives cross over into these virtual ecosystems, larger portions of our expenditures in media and entertainment, spend on advertising, etc. will be classifiable as metaverse opportunity,” he explained.

Therefore, many of the issues faced by companies within these fields will also be experienced by the metaverse in the future, he suggested. These include economic and political factors, as well as inner-market perceptual issues and data privacy concerns.

For example, Inouye pointed to consumers rejecting the concept of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) – regarded as intrinsically connected to the future metaverse – as an “an area that could slow the progression of the metaverse”. Similarly, the ban of cryptocurrencies in some countries and regulations restricting certain elements of Web3 could also hamper the growth of the metaverse. “There is certainly a lot that must be settled before we get to a unified metaverse,” argued Inouye. 

In his view, regulation and policies will be vital for laying the groundwork for standardisations, interoperability and consumer education. And this is where organisations and platforms, such as the Metaverse Standards Forum and NVIDIA’s Omniverse platform, will come into play as they push for standardisation and interoperability efforts.

The breakthrough moment for bringing “the most transformative changes” to the metaverse and to the digital services field in general will come with the arrival and spread of mainstream smart glasses, the analyst predicted.

“This will occur across the consumer and enterprise markets, perhaps not at the same scale (or as widely) as smartphones, but these devices will start to unlock the full potential of the metaverse, especially as it applies to public spaces. This will also provide a better transition point for mobile markets to the metaverse”, noted Inouye. It is expected that such headsets will be widely available by the 2030s. 

Finally, according to ABI Research’s findings, consumer education will also be key for the development of the virtual space, with big-name players Meta, Google, Microsoft, Tencent, Epic Games and Apple expected to play critical roles when it comes to delivering content and services.

Compute and infrastructure companies, such as Intel, Qualcomm and Nokia, which will enable these experiences, will also play an important role in the metaverse.

“While the opportunity is certainly there, because so much must happen between now and a full metaverse future, for the time being I’m holding more conservative expectations (and classifications) on what is directly metaverse driven versus just evolutionary changes to pre-existing markets,” notes Inouye. “If, however, the pieces fall into place faster and better than expected, this could certainly accelerate the curve” and could mean the $2tn revenue is achieved by the end of the decade.

Much of this might be up for grabs for some of the telcos, which are eager to explore (and have already placed investments into such efforts) new service opportunities in the virtual world – see Will mobile operators jump on the metaverse bandwagon?

- Yanitsa Boyadzhieva, Deputy Editor, TelecomTV

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