Virtual reality is awesome. One moment you can be fighting mummies, then you can be traveling to the most exotic parts of the world and seconds later sitting front row at any sporting event. Basically, you can be the Rock. It sounds amazing. Why isn’t it more popular?
One argument is the tech just isn’t here yet. This feels like bullshit to me. The visuals are amazing. When watching video games, it seems pretty close to the real thing. Maybe the controllers aren’t ready, but that seems like an odd holdup.
Another common argument is that the cost is too high. I’m calling bullshit on this one too. Oculus puts out a world-class product for $299. If that is too expensive, Google cardboard plus your phone is $20. Cost doesn’t seem to be the problem.
The next argument I hear is that the content isn’t great yet. How can content be the problem? We live in an age of endless high-quality content. One of my first virtual reality experiences was playing Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality. That was three years ago. I have a hard time believing that in the age of the internet, content could ever be the problem.
To me, the real problem is the ease of use. Virtual reality is clunky. You need a headgear of some sort or some elaborate set up. People like easy. If ever given the choice between an investment that makes something easy versus complicated, chose the easy button. Making things easy makes you money! So all VR companies need to do is make it easy. Sounds simple? Nope. The first easy answer that companies have tried is shifting headsets into glasses. I struggle with whether the adoption of glasses would really be that effective. First, it seems creepy for people to wear them all the time. Second, I question how good the experience would really be with a slim, lightweight pair of VR glasses (at this point, we are really talking AR).
So, glasses seem meh. What’s the real answer? It’s simple. Acid. JUST KIDDING. No druggos kiddos. The real answer is your smart phone. Everyone already owns one, is willing to pay exorbitant prices, and how many more cameras can Apple really add at this point? I say VR/AR won’t reach mass adoption until smart phones are the means of distribution. Maybe it would work through the screen (like $SNAP) or maybe your phone would become a projector for Facetime. Who knows, I leave that for the smarter people. Either way, VR/AR doesn’t seem like it’s reaching mass adoption until it becomes easier.
P.S. If you are a VR/AR bull, $SNAP and $FB seem like very reasonable buys. Nice forms of optionality for both.