Virtual reality – real or hype?

paul-jackson-660x825In a talk where he tried to avoid numbers, Ovum Principal Analyst Paul Jackson described how Ovum sees the VR/AR market shaping up over the next four years.

He stated that, while there are still a lot of technical challenges to overcome, VR and AR is finally set to become a mainstream reality.

He remarked that the technical challenges were “something Huawei and others are really getting to grips with,” pointing to upcoming sessions at VR/AR World on this topic from the Chinese electronics giant.

He stated that, while there are still a lot of technical challenges to overcome, VR and AR is finally set to become a mainstream reality. He remarked that the technical challenges were “something Huawei and others are really getting to grips with,” pointing to upcoming sessions at VR/AR World on this topic from the Chinese electronics giant.

“And now in a talk without numbers, here are some numbers,” he joked, before pointing out that by 2020 there will be 330 million VR or AR headsets in people’s homes and offices, according to Ovum’s forecasts. The research house also believes that the global VR market will be worth up to USD$285 billion by 2020.

He said this revenue will predominately break down into three areas: apps, games and video. He added that once the technical challenges of broadcast VR are overcome, the VR video market is likely to slowly overtake the games market. He also pointed out that revenue from content would overtake hardware by 2018 as technology and the companies developing hardware mature and consolidate respectively.

Jackson also predicted the winners and losers in VR over the next few years. The winners included:

  • Headset makers and content generators
  • Platform owners
  • Mobile operators
  • Multichannel content firms
  • Social platforms
  • Virtual reality venue owners.

He pointed out that multi-channel content firms, such as Sky TV and Netflix are in an ideal position to carve a large chunk out of the content market.

In terms of losers, Jackson highlighted:

  • Infrastructure providers
  • Telcos operating walled gardens
  • VR Hardware manufacturers
  • Traditional game developers

He said that there are too many VR Hardware manufacturers at present and that there would be consolidation here, “with some vertical niches emerging”.
He explained that game manufacturers were on there because it is a “substitution market”, where customers switch from one game to another. He said VR will become a mainstay of gaming, and that games companies will need to respond to it to gain growth. He added: “If you’re not doing VR it’s not going to bankrupt you but could be slivering a couple of percentage points off your revenue.”

He wrapped up his keynote session to an enthralled full house at VR/AR World by pointing out the things to watch out for.

The first was Venue VR and VR cinema. He said that iMax was already trialling VR cinema. “An out-of-home consumer application for VR.”

Another innovation was light field technology and computational photography. He described it as “a technology that blurs the difference between a rendered experience to a live filmed, but still interactive”.

whalemagicleapAnd then there’s Magic Leap (pictured left), he said. The Minority Report-style AR company has gathered USD$1.4 billion in investment, but a “product is still rumoured to be 18 months out”.

The final one to watch: On-demand VR content, with a move towards live VR coverage by 2020.

Stay up to date with all the session at VR/AR World on Twitter and look out for our live streams

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