Whether it was TED or Mobile World Congress, everyone seems to be talking about virtual reality — the technology and what it means. At the Mobile World Congress, Mark Zuckerberg walked in to Samsung’s presentation and talked about Samsung VR (Powered by Facebook-owned Oculus, obviously) and put virtual reality right at the center of the conversation. In the past, we recorded baby’s first steps by writing about it, then by taking a photo, then a cell phone video and Zuckerberg thinks that that virtual reality (via 360 degree video) is the next obvious evolution.
He pointed that over 1 million hours of video watched in VR and there are already over 200 games and apps available for VR in the Oculus store. Right on cue, Samsung announced a 360 Camera. VR will be for games and entertainment first, but Facebook chief thinks social interactions are going to be next. That explains why HTC and Valve have teamed up for a $799 device, HTC Vive. It had previously announced Rift. Sony is coming out with their own VR platform as well.
Some of my friends who are at MWC tell me that VR is at everywhere, especially at the booths of the large handset makers. Doesn’t surprise me: the smartphone boom is over, and all these guys needs to figure out their next act, and as a result they are back to throwing spaghetti at the wall and trying to figure out what sticks. Never mind the fact, that no matter what these handset makers do — sell VR devices, IOT and Wearables — none of them will amount to enough revenue to replace growth.
By now you must be asking: so how big can the virtual reality market get? Analysts at Jeffries & Company, a Wall Street firm, in a recent report sent to their clients estimated that “VR could reach a 10 million annual shipment rate in 3-to-5 years. Ultimately, we think 50 million VR units is feasible in 5-to-10 years.”
I asked my Twitter followers about the realistic timeline expectation on VR going mainstream? I consider any technology which is close to 100 million units as relatively mainstream. A whopping 43 percent think that it could go mainstream in 2-to-5 years, while 22 percent think it could be in 5-to-10 years, while another 22 percent think it is not going mainstream at all. I am personally in the 5-7 year camp. My only caveat is that I just like to buy new gadgets all the time, though the first version of Oculus made me very very sick because I have astigmatism.