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VR gear landscape – or the battle for everything

Much has changed in 3!!! weeks since I wrote my first post about VR. Here I will update you with latest news and some thinking behind the reasons for my conclusions.

Just a couple of days ago Oculus / FB released a remarkable milestone product – Oculus Go. And no matter what hardcore VR enthusiasts are saying, I think it is a great product at a great price point to change the VR market as we know it to a commodity product it should be.

But what VR is actually competing for. Well, almost everything. If we talk about VR we have to try using term xR, which is everything Reality, or Augmented, Mixed, Virtual and what not reality across the board. This technology is going after our TV set, Cinemas, Airplane tickets and tourism industry in general, after video conferencing equipment, monitoring consoles, PC monitors, intimate relationships, social live and even work environemtn as we know it.

Current main technology setback is the VR sickness, or nausea and dizziness caused by the equipment or experience itself, but that has come a super long way since it was a thing. There are excellent guidelines how to avoid most of it from the software side, as well as latest high end sets almost completely eliminate that by having excellent viewing angle width and focus, wide motion detection and visual response capabilities as well as people simply getting used to the experience.

There are more things holding us back though, the lack of device adaptation and lack of content. Former will be generally driven by adult video industry so that most  adults that watch porn, and that is most adults, will have at least phone or Go set for that purpose. 5G mobile network as main driver of the privacy capabilities with the set (ability to stream hi-res content instead of risky downloading), and afterwards everyone else following with content on that particular device base. All major adult movie studios are ramping up their content production on VR, so expect this to be a biggie.

Secondly we will have phone companies and mobile telcos subsidising better and better VR kits for a simple reason. Phone manufacturers will have to justify the price of high end phones, and there is nothing to impress with given displays that are way beyond retina already, so that you have resolution DECREASE!!! option in them, like my Galaxy 8 note, to save battery…unless you are using Gear VR, then its back in the business. On the other side, phone companies need to start earning a cut in the content business, and they will, with VR, given that VR platform providers, like Google, Oculus and others will be hungry for market share and ready to do some sweet content dollar-share to get there.

Telcos will have to subsidise VR kits for phones as well as standalone kits to keep the demand of 5G and expensive high-bandwidth data plans being selected and consumed. Also most of them are moving into selling content over mobile, and VR is an excellent high-consumption area on live broadcasts, where telcos tend to have contracts with content providers today. This also allows them to compete with optical fibre telcos, given the throughput parity (almost).

Third driver of the thing will be good old boredom and hardware manufacturers incapability to come up with new and exciting gadgets. Everybody will need a gadget to buy for this Christmas. I predict VR is going to be sky high this year, just because of the affordability and not only good enough (Gear VR / Google Daydream / Oculus GO etc.)  kits for 100 – 200 bucks a pop, but also because of excellent standalone kits coming out this very month, like HTC Focus and Lenovo Mirage Solo to name a few, which will remove the burden of needing external PC or gaming console. So we will have high-end all-in-one kits for affordable price point  (~500 USD give or take) to withhold us from purchasing that 55″ curved “whatever” resolution TV set upgrade from our current (no)thing.

Gaming console adaptation of VR will steadily continue. Sony already has excellent VR kit for PS4 on high end gaming side of the content spectrum, same I expect to see across the board, and I don’t exclude newcomers in this space. Like Apple, for instance, which has a rumoured super-high end VR/AR hybrid gear coming out, and I think it is going to be primarily targeted to their excellent and (weirdly) loyal consumer base, with a twist towards enterprise customers (similar as iPad has).

Last but not least is the availability of good content creation tools. I think Unity 3D is now in absolutely excellent shape to become de-facto standard for most of the content. For high end I expect Unreal to be dominant. There are also quite a few easy to use no-code VR tools out there, and I expect all major content authoring tools to support VR in one form or another till end of this year.

I believe this is a perfect storm and a prime time moment for VR to shine. Soon we will find out.

*Featured image and registered trademark  – courtesy of Facebook Inc. and Oculus VR Inc.