Metaverse Platforms Still More Used Than ChatGPT

ChatGPT Pew Research survey vs Metaverse

Important Pew Research report on ChatGPT popped up right before the Memorial Day weekend:

Overall, 18% of U.S. adults have heard a lot about ChatGPT, while 39% have heard a little and 42% have heard nothing at all….

However, few U.S. adults have themselves used ChatGPT for any purpose. Just 14% of all U.S. adults say they have used it for entertainment, to learn something new, or for their work. This lack of uptake is in line with a Pew Research Center survey from 2021 that found that Americans were more likely to express concerns than excitement about increased use of artificial intelligence in daily life.

Emphasis mine. 14% of US adults translates to about 36 million adults who have actually used ChatGPT. That tracks with OpenAI’s report of 100 million monthly active users overall a few months ago, and SimilarWeb’s data suggesting that the strong majority of ChatGPT usage is from outside the US.

That’s quite impressive growth in such a short time! Then again, I strongly suspect that’s the ceiling of ChatGPT’s user growth (at least in its current version) since it doesn’t have an obvious networking effect hook like social media. We join TikTok or another social platform not just because it contains interesting content, but also because we want to share content with our friends who are also on it. 

By contrast, all the people who are probably curious about ChatGPT have already used it, but there’s no particular inherent motive for everyone else to do so. (Yes, most everyone will probably use some version of ChatGPT and other LLMs in a search engine like Bing or other existing use case, but that’s indirect usage.) If that’s the case, I would not be surprised if we start seeing consumer-level ChatGPT usage level off as its novelty factor fades. 

In any case, it’s still true that that the top popular metaverse platforms still have a much larger user base than ChatGPT:

While the majority of 600 million+ metaverse platform users are not in the US and are not adults, it’s still a safe estimate that roughly 50 million+ Americans over age 17 are active users of a metaverse platform — Second Life, VRChat, Fortnite, Minecraft, Rec Room, Roblox, etc. (Arranging those based on their heaviest usage, based on adult age.) Overall user growth is slower than ChatGPT, yes, but metaverse platform usage has so far proven to sustain over time.

Or to put it another way: We go to ChatGPT to generate fun, interesting, and useful content, possibly to share elsewhere; we go to a metaverse platform to generate fun, interesting, and useful content with other people in the same space that’s enjoyed together. (And is often shared on social media elsewhere.)

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