I participated in a great conference here in NYC at the New Museum hosted by the New Inc. and Kill Screen. It was a gathering of a cross-section of professionals from artists, to investors, content creators, filmmakers, producers, virtual reality creators, technologists, tech company executives, students and professors. We share a great drive to see the virtual reality industry thrive as quickly as possible.
“Where is the money for virtual reality?”
My talk was about: where is the money for virtual reality? In essence, I talked about the projections set out by Wall Street analysts who see a virtual reality market in the billions by 2025. According to research firm IDC, the virtual and augmented reality market will reach $162 billion by 2020, three years from now.
This hyper-growth is predicated on applications they believe will radically change core operations, services or products across all sectors and industries. They will optimize and disrupt the way many of us do business. I also talked about angel investors and venture capitalists who are seeking new applications that will help build the infrastructure to support the creation and production of virtual reality, as well as great ideas and companies that have a good chance of scaling VR to the masses. Then there are government grants, fellowships and the like, supporting VR creators’ efforts to make content.
Content is critical to scaling.
The central issue of concern that all parties share in the funding world, as well as corporates and brands is based on distribution, distribution, and distribution. That is to say:
- It is abundantly unclear what that road looks like for the mass adoption of headsets
- No one is sure how distribution of content will work, what the content looks like and how the masses will find it
- Beyond that, it’s up in the air as to what the masses will pay, what’s the business model, and whether more people will prefer to subscribe to services or download one-offs
“Content is critical to scaling”.
There is little data to help guide us to answer any of these questions. It is a chicken-and-egg conversation on every level. The headsets are evolving and we have yet to see augmented reality headsets or other hardware fully hit the market and be adopted broadly. What will the price point ultimately be for the access points to these new realities; be it headsets or other hardware. Then, there are the content creators. They need the money to experiment with what the best expression of virtual reality so consumers feel they absolutely have to have it.
Despite all of these many challenges, the most invigorating element of the conference was and is that there are so many believers in VR’s future, and we are collaborating in many ways to find the best paths forward. It is exciting.