This week, Gartner published its hype cycle for emerging technologies that it deems as potentially disruptive tech at an early stage of development. One of the three featured themes was immersive experiences, including decentralized identity, the metaverse, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and web3.
While it places decentralized identity (DID) and NFTs as past the peak of inflated expectations, the metaverse is still near the start of a journey of more than ten years.
Earlier this year, the research company predicted that by 2026 a quarter of people would spend at least an hour a day in the metaverse for work, shopping, education, social and entertainment. And 30% of organizations will have products and services ready for the metaverse.
Given the length of the journey, Gartner warns corporates against committing too much to one platform. Instead, it encourages learning, exploring and preparing.
It’s always fun to take a peek at how Gartner’s previous predictions faired. Looking at 2021, NFTs and DID feature at the peak of the hype cycle. However, web3 and the metaverse were not on the radar.
In fairness, web3 is just a subset of blockchain and crypto. And our take is the metaverse concept is not new. Fifteen years ago, virtual worlds were a major emerging technology. The four primary differences between virtual worlds and the metaverse are (our view, not Gartner’s):
- connectivity and technology have moved on with smartphones making adoption easier
- the need for interoperability is recognized (by content providers, if not platforms)
- Covid was a key driver in accelerating online engagement
- and Meta has gone all in.
That said, the virtual world era featured Google and Sony PlayStation, and it still didn’t manage to get off the ground. But there were many attempts at smartphones before the iPhone broke through.
When it comes to technology, timing is everything.