The financial people think it is Facebook and Apple that are positioned to win in the Virtual Reality War. But, it won’t be a fast war. It will last years. Quoting Chris Ciaccia :
[A] Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster stated that virtual reality is likely the next key trend in technology, writing, “We liken the state of virtual and augmented reality today as similar to the state of mobile phones 15 years ago. It likely will take a decade before mainstream adoption as necessary improvements in displays and applications as well as lower pricing are needed to drive demand.”
They expect new virtual everythings to open up; gaming (obviously), live sports, concerts, immersive cinema and social experiences will have a VR version. The article, Facebook and Apple are Poised to Win the Virtual Reality Wars, gives us, at least me, some new ideas about VR can be used.
The financial people estimate content for virtual reality will be earning around $5.4 billion by 2025. VR hardware sales are expected to be higher, estimated to be $62 billion by 2025.
Munster says, “some of the better positioned private companies [are] Magic Leap, Next VR, Jauant VR, Leap Motion, OTOY, Matterport, Linden Lab, and Valve.” (Emphasis mine)
Munster and financial people think Apple, Facebook, and Google are the big plays. I am not sure playing those has as much possibility as some others. But, I do think they are the safer bets. If Linden Lab can pull off development of a great virtual world hosting system, they stand to be a big winner.
What would winning mean? Besides just money. If they can make it before someone buys the company, then it will be an IPO, Initial Public Offering – selling the company publically, shares on the stock market. This is the cash out goal for most venture capitalists.
But to we users of Second Life, what would Project SANSAR be pre and post IPO? Initially it would be a showcase for the software. After that it would probably be more of a learning and development center. It would be a place for people, think mostly web masters, to learn how to work with virtual reality and worlds.
Of course we users may change all that. Second Life did not evolve as Philip and other founders envisioned. That may well be true for Project SANSAR too.
There will be competing hosting systems for virtual worlds. We can see that in the OpenSim world. Various companies are hosting virtual worlds based on OpenSim software.
We can expect Yahoo, who purchased Cloud Party, to do something with VR/VW. Will they start games? Or will Yahoo build search and advertising targeted business using VR?
Facebook is a service based in software. Zuckerberg is telling us what he thinks. He is about capturing the real world experience and sharing it with others as VR experiences. The idea is people like pictures and they share them. Extend that to VR. That is a ways down the road, in my thinking. What will they do near term?
Facebook has a ton of games. So, many of us think they will try to recover their shrinking game share with a virtual world. The Facebook play seems to be to develop the hardware as a step in the path to some greater goal.
Sony bought Onlive for the patents. They have some plan. We just don’t know what.
My point here is that even if Linden Lab can pull off development of a system that handles sub-optimal content, they have serious competition. The chance of them owning the ONLY VW hosting software is slim. So, there has to be a fallback position. Training, games, hosting, content sales, development services… I am not sure where the Lab will go.
Philip considered Linden Lab a software house. That seems realistic. But, will Linden Lab be able to sell their software in such a competitive market? Or can they sell their world as tried with Second Life?
I see the edge they have as huge. Experience with non-professionals making content is a forte of the Lab’s. Not only do they have technical experience there is the psychological and social experience too. I think most of the competition is going to stumble on these points. They will do lots of things to piss people off. Some mistakes may be fatal. The Lab has been there and done that. They will know which bumps are a pothole and which are land mines that must be avoided. At least I hope so.
Whatever the case, the money people are convinced VR will go mainstream. And they are aware of Linden Lab. Things look pretty good for the Lab.