Content Delivery Network: Entering the Metaverse

Although the long-term future of the Metaverse is still unclear, the current surrounding hype is still receiving considerable attention. In fact, this excitement has driven immediate growth for the global Content Delivery Network (CDN) market, which is also expected to more than double by 2030, reaching nearly US$24 billion.

How Will this Development Occur?

This growth is driven in part by expanding presence in services beyond core content delivery and caching, which includes security (network, content, and enterprise) and edge compute. These newer areas are supported by current trends like direct-to-consumer streaming, hybrid workforces, and migrations to the cloud. Further, the buildup to the metaverse will create additional growth opportunity for CDN providers at the network edge, particularly in the latter half of this decade and beyond.

The arrival and evolution of mainstream smart glasses, content development, services, and workflows to support the metaverse, and availability of new cellular network technologies will answer the question, “What will be the next big thing to push mobility like streaming video did for 4G?” The types of experiences made available by a metaverse will create the need and demand for next generation technologies such as smart glasses—a demand currently lacking in today’s market.

Smart glasses will push the always-on user experience into the public domain, increasing demands on mobile networks and the need for lower latency services. The network edge will develop to meet these demands across a range of ultra-low latency (all sub 1 second) needs that span from cloud XR and compute, real-time communications, and personalization.

Future Opportunities for CDN Companies

In the next 3 years, metaverse activity will work more toward laying down the foundation and groundwork for more advanced elements expected down the line as network capabilities evolve. This is a critical period for CDN companies to prepare for what will eventually become an aggressive push toward the metaverse future.

Advertising, demand for information, communications, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and applications will push closer to the edge (with increased demand for lower latencies) as touchpoints outside of the home and office increase greatly with new devices (e.g., smart glasses) and next-generation connectivity (5G and 6G).

Edge compute is also a growing market opportunity, but within this narrower time frame it is viewed as value additive, rather than a significant growth driver; the broader cloud companies and hyperscalers are still viewed as main drivers in the short- to mid-term forecast.

A true move to the Metaverse is still far off but the buildup to this future will create opportunities to generate significant market value. It will radically change the way content is delivered and consumed, influencing a domino effect on the overall CDN market landscape. These new environments will create new opportunities for CDN players willing to balance between innovation and financial stability brought by legacy markets.

These findings are from ABI Research’s CDN Market Evolutions and the Path to the Metaverse application analysis report. This report is part of the company’s Metaverse Markets & Technologies research service, which includes research, data, and ABI Insights. Application Analysis reports present in-depth analysis on key market trends and factors for a specific technology.