Introduction to my first series, T2C: The Consumer is Ready VR Industry – Go Get ’em!
T2C stands for Technology to Consumers, in this case, the Virtual and Augmented Reality industry to consumers. This post is the first in a series aimed to bridge the gap between the mostly PC/console gaming-focused VR/AR industry and the general consumer.
2016 is dubbed the year of #VR, with social media buzzing with VR/AR related news. This momentum is great and healthy, but criticism continues to echo in the expanding room of tech enthusiasts, professionals, and leaders – and it sounds something like this: “the consumers and technology aren’t ready.”
When I set out to start VRonEdge.com, I did so with this very problem in mind. Are consumers ready? I think they are. Is the technology where it needs to be? From the outside looking in, it sure seems like it.
It’s clear VR/AR technology is rapidly progressing, and the industry is teetering on the edge of scale or flop. The watershed moment is near. This raises an interesting question. Can the PC/console gaming industry sustain VR/AR unchaperoned? The consensus seems to be, no. This story isn’t new. Consider the birth of the internet or social media. Both are amazing innovations that have redefined communication; both are spawns of niche markets. At some juncture, the tech evolved and scaled. Internet was born from TCP/IP, and social media came about from the technologies driven by Web 2.0 concepts. What will be VR/AR’s major hurdle? Will it be software? Hardware? Neither, it’s communication.
‘What will be VR/AR’s major hurdle?’
Stick with me here. We know the path of GPU technology, software startups are aplenty, and there’s no shortage of money. Heck, you can watch thousands of excellent VR videos using Google Cardboard for under $20 with an existing smartphone. Sure form factors need some work (cords, tracking cameras, etc.), and GPUs have some ground to cover (particularly in the cost department). What I’m trying to say is maybe the PC/console gaming industry, the niche that’s driving VR/AR, has a communication issue with regular consumers. Let’s be honest. Gamers aren’t the most social people – I mean that with the utmost respect knowing plenty of gamers who are social butterflies. Among the flurry of VR news, you find very few blogs or reports regarding applications outside of gaming. Yes, they do exist. I’m sure they were all over SXSW – check out these education and humanity oriented applications of VR/AR. However, if you look where it matters, in social media – where the outside looks in, you’d think the industry was all gaming all the time. The gaming experience defines success and drives innovation. How is the regular consumer supposed to empathize with that?
‘So, where’s the 20%?’
Finally, to my point. The industry needs to start looking outward. Translate what this all means for the average consumer. Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point provides a framework:
- The Law of the few: 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people characterized as connectors, mavens, and salespeople.
- The stickiness factor: Is the content impactful and memorable?
- The power of context: Human behavior is sensitive to and strongly influenced by its environment.
Most industry actors work in the gaming context, far from the 20% of influencers needed to scale outside of that realm. The remaining two points are inherently satisfied within the technology itself. Think about that. With VR production happening all over the world, the content is already powerful and memorable. I flew with Swedish military jets the other day and ran with a T. Rex through a prehistoric landscape – all with my Google Cardboard. People are reality shifting by broadcasting VR streams across the globe. This stuff is powerful. VR/AR is all about altering environments – check the last point off. So, where’s the 20%?
That, my friends, is why I started this blog. I have a lot to learn, but I love technology, and most importantly I love how it can change the world. VR/AR has that capability; now it needs the people to harvest it.