Virtual reality is one of the fastest-growing areas of the technology world, projected to be a $5.2 billion industry by 2020. It’s clear to see why virtual reality is such a popular niche. It’s revolutionary in the field of both film and video games with significant potential for apps, massive multiplayer online games, and pretty much anything else that involves video.
Samsung sold 5 million units of their virtual reality headset in 2016 alone. There are estimated to be 43 million virtual reality users worldwide, and that number is growing. However, virtual reality is just a fledgling technology — an industry without solid footing…yet.
Technology Without Delivery
The issue with the virtual reality business is that it’s an amazing technology without a system of delivery. Matt Day of The Seattle Times put it best:
“Many of the early games and other software built for virtual reality headsets feel more like technology demonstrations or physics experiments than fully-developed experiences.”
Virtual reality is cool, certainly. So far though, the companies involved with it have failed to provide an engaging, long-term platform for users. According to Day, virtual reality in its current state is like the iPhone circa 2007, before apps.
It’s a cool, thrilling new gadget, but how long will the excitement last? Like the early iPhone, VR headsets don’t have anything to keep users astonished and engaged after the initial thrill of the new technology wears off. Sure, there are some cool VR apps available, mostly through Google Cardboard, but nothing that’s really taken hold of a global market yet.
Commodities Cannot Be Commonplace
Virtual reality’s major selling point right now is that it’s new, shiny, and revolutionary. It’s a commodity, something that most consumers have never experienced or interacted with before. But there is a potential issue with VR. As the virtual reality market grows, and more gaming, movie, and app companies begin to adopt it, it will become commonplace.
Before VR becomes commonplace — before we see people in headsets on buses and trains and airplanes, and before the VR-induced car crashes start — the industry needs to develop marketable, engaging content.
Content Equals Marketability
Like apps for the iPhone, virtual reality needs exclusive, specific content if it’s going to stick around on the market. What the iPhone essentially is is a good delivery system for all the sleek apps that people use every day. When it comes down to it, an iPhone isn’t a better phone. It doesn’t place phone calls better or send texts better. But it does to it cooler.
Virtual reality technology isn’t going to immediately make anyone’s life easier. Yes, surgeons will be able to perform life-saving procedures from half a world away. And yes, police will be able to disarm bombs more accurately than ever before — but that’s not here yet. So, today’s technology itself isn’t enough for this business to thrive.
Whether it takes the route of Google Glass, trying to make the world more accessible through wearable VR, or goes in an entirely different direction — the industry needs to create marketable content. Without that appeal, the amazing product they offer is going to lapse into “non-remarkability” before too long.
Neat new platforms aren’t worth anything if they’ve got nothing truly useful to deliver. Content is a vital aspect of any business venture — you can’t be new and shiny without offering substance.
- Do you emphasize the importance of content in your marketing strategy?
- What is your opinion on virtual reality? Do you think it’s here to stay as a mainstream technology?
- Have there been any instances where you overlooked content for something you thought was more important — and got burned for it?