What’s stalling the virtual reality consumer market?
Although arriving with great fanfare, virtual reality (VR) headsets disappointed for a variety of reasons in 2016 and appear far from going mainstream.
Among the continued challenges are that Facebook-owned Oculus Rift, HTC’s Vive and Sony’s PlayStation VR all retail above $400 and require costly computers to run. They remain bulky to use, can lead to motion sickness and lack must-have content. With all the hype, consumers perhaps had unrealistic expectations and many aren’t comfortable losing their sense of the physical world around them.
At CES 2017, 71 vendors offered consumer hardware for virtual reality/augmented reality/mixed reality experiences, up 48 percent from the prior year. But the tech blogging community was surprised that the VR experiences offered from those vendors at the show failed to leap forward in the same trajectory as smartphones.
The Samsung Gear VR, also made by Facebook’s Oculus, is gaining some traction because it is cheaper at $100 and accessible to all smartphones, but lower resolution limits the experience.
Many believe VR is entering a “trough of disillusionment.” The predictions that the technology would transform video gaming and movie viewing, replace smartphones and change how computers work are now being met with more realistic expectations that should lead to a slower build toward success.
Some see a smaller slowdown while others see a shakeout. Wrote Tom Garner for The Independent, “The big question splitting these opinions is whether the consumer reaction to the VR games and applications currently being released will be the wrath of disillusionment or the mercy of patience.”
With the popularity of Pokemon Go, augmented reality is being looked at by some as the bigger near- and long-term opportunity.
Lower prices, better content and wireless capabilities are all expected to broaden VR’s appeal. Proponents are also offering new opportunities to let people experience VR. Facebook opened pop-up “stores” over the holidays at airports and malls to showcase VR, while IMAX just opened its first VR theater in Los Angeles.
- CES 2017: Can Virtual Reality Finally Go Mainstream? – Barron’s
- Virtual reality seeks momentum at CES gadget gala – phys.org
- Virtually boring: VR really disappoints at CES this year – CNET
- CES for Marketers: Alexa Wows, Virtual Reality Underwhelms – The Wall Street Journal
- Sticker Shock, and Maybe Nausea, Hamper Sales of Virtual Reality Gear – The New York Times
- Why connecting all the world’s robots will drive 2017’s top technology trends – The Independent
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see minor or major hurdles facing the adoption of virtual reality in the consumer market? Which are the most problematic?