Some believe Metaverse is the next big thing after the iPhone. Many think it will fail.
After using Second Life, Roblox, Fortnite, Minecraft, Horizon Worlds, VRChat, etc., we found that the broader concept of Metaverse is overhyped. Metaverse will fail
Metaverse will fail because it doesn’t improve our lives immensely; it’s trying to solve problems that we don’t have, and it’s the wrong solution to our problems.
Here are three fundamental questions. Answers to these questions will clarify why Metaverse is destined to fail.
- What Problem Does Metaverse Solve?
- Are We Missing Metaverse?
- How Will Metaverse Make Our Life Easier?
A product will fail unless it makes our lives easier. It has to solve real life problems. Moreover, the product must be easy to use, and if it complicates our existing work without adding significant value, the product is meaningless.
A product is a tool to solve our troubles. If it doesn’t solve the problem in a meaningful way, the product is useless.
It doesn’t mean a solution doesn’t exist. It means we need a different product.
Failure of Google’s Balloon Internet:
Google’s Balloon internet failure is a classic example of the wrong solution to an urgent problem.
For example, even today, rural America doesn’t have high-speed broadband internet. A large part of Africa is entirely disconnected from the internet. Google tried to solve it with their “Balloon Internet” project (Google Loon).
The idea was to fly internet equipment on helium balloons to beam down the internet. It’s much cheaper than launching a satellite on rockets. It was a novel idea, but the project failed for various technical challenges. Google spent billions of dollars before shutting down this project.
Then SpaceX came up with the Starlink undertaking where SpaceX wants to beam down the internet from low earth orbit satellites.
Satellite internet is an old idea. HughesNet, ViaSat have been providing satellite internet for a long time. But these companies use geostationary satellites to beam down the internet. As these geostationary satellites are 35,786 km (22,236 miles) away from earth, the internet provided by these services is very slow, unreliable, and expensive.
HughesNet, ViaSat doesn’t make rockets nor make satellites. On the other hand, SpaceX has the world’s most economical rocket. They make almost everything for their rocket in-house, including Starlink satellites.
Thus, they can make a lot of satellites and launch them at a cheap cost. So, they are building a low earth orbit Starlink satellite internet constellation. These satellites are above the earth, ranging from 350km to 550km.
Therefore, Starlink is not only 100 times faster than HughesNet and Viasat; it’s cheaper too.
We see that a problem — providing high-speed internet to rural areas — is solved by Starlink. However, Google Balloons and HughesNet failed miserably here.
What problems do we face that an interconnected 3D virtual world will solve?
Many people say that Metaverse will help us to socialize more realistically. We will hold meetings in the virtual world. We will attend concerts in the Metaverse, etc.
Yes, some people want to do that. There’s always a niche community for everything. But will it become mainstream? We highly doubt it. When we are separated and crave social interactions, virtual meetings in the Metaverse will not satisfy our desire. Otherwise, a video call would have solved it.
Improvement of Existing Technology:
When Steve Jobs first announced the iPhone in 2007, most tech CEOs laughingly dismissed it. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said no one would buy the iPhone. The BlackBerry CEO said the iPhone would fail because it doesn’t have a keyboard.
But as a user, we knew the iPhone was revolutionary, and it would improve our lives. We lined up to buy the first iPhone. Because we knew the iPhone could do many things that Microsoft or Blackberry phones could not.
However, we fail to see how Metaverse could improve our lives this time. Metaverse is only trying to mimic the real world without adding extra value. It’s not enough.
Failure of Google Glass:
Google Glass is a classic example of a product failure. Google Glass tried to solve a problem that we didn’t have. Moreover, it failed to improve our lives in a meaningful way.
Facebook, YouTube, Zoom, Netflix, iPhone, etc., every product has a meaningful purpose.
On the other hand, Metaverse tries to solve a problem that we don’t have, and Metaverse doesn’t improve our lives in a meaningful way.
Second Life has been here since 2003. It’s a taste of Metaverse. However, it failed to become famous. It’s because it tried to give us something we don’t care about.
The success of the Global Positioning System (GPS):
The US military first invented and implemented the GPS. In the early days, it was a secret military technology. However, later President Ronald Reagan opened this system to the public on September 16, 1983, for public benefit.
Nowadays, we can’t think of our travel without GPS maps. Planes, ships, cars, cargos, satellites, rockets, researchers all use GPS. And recently, with the advent of the smartphone, and mobile internet, we have Uber, Lyft, which are entirely GPS dependent.
If the GPS goes down, the entire world will suffer. We never knew we needed it 50 years ago, and now we use it daily.
However, Metaverse doesn’t propel our existing technologies forward.
Optimism and Vision of Self-driving cars:
Waymo (owned by Google) has been working on self-driving cars for a long time. MobilEye, Tesla, and Cruise are also trying to develop self-driving cars. Even though we don’t have Level 5 autonomy publicly, we are getting there.
This technology is not available yet, but we can see the potential benefit of self-driving cars. Here’s are a few:
- Truck companies will buy self-driving trucks to transport goods, saving them millions of dollars each year.
- Taxi companies will have self-driving cars that operate 16-20 hours a day, making them more money.
- Self-driving cars are not distracted, don’t become emotional (road-rage), break laws. Therefore, it will make our roads safer than human drivers.
- If fewer accidents happen due to self-driving vehicles, the insurance premiums will decrease, and we will indirectly benefit from lower insurance costs.
Therefore, even though we don’t have self-driving vehicles on the road right now, we can see the vision and benefit of this technology. Thus, we need it.
However, Metaverse doesn’t provide us with any clear, futuristic vision.
What Problem Does Metaverse Solve?
When Mark Zuckerberg talks about Metaverse, he frequently gives an example of an office meeting. Mark misses human interaction. Instead of human faces on the computer screen, he wants to see 3D avatars in a room in the Metaverse. Mark also gives examples of virtual concerts, virtual offices, etc.
But these examples show Metaverse doesn’t solve any critical problem humanity faces. We are just putting ourselves in a virtual world. Metaverse will not improve our life like other compelling technologies such as GPS, Streaming services, or Self-driving cars.
Are We Missing Metaverse?
Second Life, Roblox, Minecraft, Fortnite, Microsoft Mesh, Horizon Worlds, etc., all are virtual worlds. We can consider each one of them as a universe. The only difference is that they are not interconnected and not interoperable.
Are we missing anything because they are not interconnected? No. As of right now, we are not missing Metaverse. We are not in dire need to take our digital assets from Minecraft to Fortnite.
Without demand, no companies will try to make the Metaverse a reality. Therefore, we don’t see the vision or urgency of Metaverse.
How Will Metaverse Make Our Life Easier?
Metaverse does not improve our life. We have to remember that Metaverse is not only Augmented Reality (AR) or Virtual Reality (VR). AR and VR have many compelling use cases, but Metaverse doesn’t.
In the early days of the internet, we knew what it was and how it would revolutionize the future.
But we can’t envision how Metaverse would make our life easier or revolutionize the future. Attending a concert or a meeting in the virtual world means nothing. It’s a novelty thing but doesn’t massively improve our life.
For all these reasons, Metaverse will fail.