Social media users and the business world now have a general idea of what the metaverse is, thanks to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s year-long seeding of the term on investor calls and subsequent renaming of Facebook to Meta. Companies as varied as Disney, Bumble, Tencent, the Warner Music Group and others have followed Zuckerberg’s lead by using “metaverse” as a strategic talking point when discussing an internet based on virtual objects and avatars in the coming years.
But while Meta may have nearly a decade head start on commercializing virtual reality (VR) via its Oculus line of headsets and software, as well as deep research in the realm of augmented reality (AR), its active user base for its metaverse is still relatively small, at less than 10 million users. Between its various successful social networking platforms—Instagram, Whatsapp, and Facebook—it is Instagram that gets the majority of Meta’s AR focus. Of the 1.3 billion users on Instagram, roughly 400,000 are building AR effects for the platform using Meta’s Spark AR tool. Still, these relatively small numbers are not commensurate with the broad excitement that’s grown around the idea of the metaverse in recent months.