There’s no doubt that virtual reality, when well executed, can be an emotional and literally awesome experience. But the problem is that right now, and for the foreseeable future, is there’s not much to do with it other than ‘ooh and ah’ over some visuals.
In contrast, VR’s less-hyped sibling, augmented reality (AR), is ripe with opportunity right now. It already has a couple of monster consumer successes and major heavyweights behind it, portending a future greater than VR.
Snapchat is early proof of this. It’s one of the most popular mobile apps of all time, largely because it leverages AR to drive engagement, to the tune of 150 million daily active users and 10 billion Snapchat videos daily (not to mention an imminent $20-$25 billion IPO).
Another breakout AR smash in 2016 was Pokemon Go, whose app has been downloaded 500 million times and whose players have walked 2.8 billion miles.
As BI Intelligence reports, the VR and AR market opportunity combined is estimated to be $162 billion by 2020. The research firm believes AR will bring in more revenue than VR. Why?
1. Easy integration
AR can integrate far more easily with other systems, everything from healthcare to product design to management tools.
2. Human nature
People like to consume media communally and often in small bites. VR is fully immersive — when you’re in it, you’re generally in it alone, and you can’t take a peek at your Facebook feed or Twitter or send a quick text message. Humans dip in and out of various media billions of times a day to connect with others.
3. Mainstream adoption
People are already used to AR apps such as SnapChat and PokemonGo. While it’s true that Facebook, Sony, Samsung, and Google have all invested in VR, my bet is that Microsoft, Apple, and Magic Leap are going to collectively make AR the next massive medium.
4. No hardware needed
VR requires specific, expensive hardware and doesn’t lend itself to communal experience. Then there’s the fact that VR offers a “lean back” (and enjoy the ride!) paradigm that isn’t sustainable for long periods because it gets either exhausting or boring over time; the AR paradigm is more “lean forward” — active and participatory.
Also, the opportunity for monetising within AR is simply much greater. Because it requires less fuss (hardware, software), there will be more daily active users; and because it’s not immersive, the sessions will be much longer.
(Source: Venture Beat)