Investment bank Citi thinks the metaverse could be worth $13 trillion by 2030, yet in 2023 half of adults don’t even know what it is. That’s according to a new survey by broadband company Pure Telecom.
The survey questioned 1,000 adults in Ireland about their knowledge of the metaverse and unsurprisingly found that awareness was greatest among the youngest cohort, aged 16 to 23. Even then, metaverse knowledge stood at just 59% – meaning four in 10 young people were as clueless as their elders.
Overall, 49% of those surveyed said they do not know what the metaverse is. In the 55-73 age group, awareness of the metaverse was just 28%.
A mixed bag
The latest survey was conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Pure Telecom, and though the top-line results are likely to generate the most headlines, there were other fascinating nuggets to be extracted.
For example, one-in-eight people said they would be content to do their job in the metaverse if possible, rising to almost one-in-six for members of Generation Z.
Pure Telecom reflected on the latter result by noting that it shows “a willingness from the younger generation to embrace the technology and move towards a truly digital workplace.”
Metaverse offices certainly appear to be making a comeback, with Katmai recently welcoming $22 million of investment for its new 3D virtual office platform.
Over one-fifth of respondents stated they thought the metaverse could improve education and online learning, while 15% suggested it might help them overcome challenges they face in ordinary life, such as social anxiety and shyness.
Metaverse travel provoked a less than enthusiastic response, with fewer than 12% saying they would use the metaverse for this purpose, even if it meant reducing their carbon footprint. Just 7% indicated they would go on a date in the metaverse.
Of course, with awareness of the metaverse generally low among respondents, specific endeavors in virtual reality – such as travel and dating – were always likely to elicit a cool response. Even those with an appreciation for what the metaverse is (this writer included) might struggle to define exactly what ‘metaverse travel’ or ‘metaverse dating’ actually mean.
Meta insists it’s still focused on metaverse
The publication of the survey comes at a time when many are questioning the metaverse’s future. Some believe major players such as Meta are pivoting away from the metaverse in light of advancements in artificial intelligence, propelled by the relentless hype around OpenAI’s ChatGPT.
This week, Mark Zuckerberg denied Meta has lost interest in building out virtual worlds. On an earnings call, the chief executive said, “A narrative has developed that we’re somehow moving away from focusing on the metaverse division. So I just want to say upfront that that’s not accurate. We’ve been focusing on both AI and the metaverse for years now, and we will continue to focus on both.”
The company’s metaverse division, Reality Labs, posted a $4 billion operating loss in the first quarter, though Zuckerberg has lost argued that metaverse investments will take years to start paying off.