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'17 to be year of survival for VR market

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SINGAPORE: Though forecasts on Virtual Reality or VR are optimistic -- a study said it would be a $30 billion market by end of this decade -- these statistics do seem a bit unrealistic as many area of concerns are yet to be addressed.

When will we get to see 10 million VR units? When will an inflection point be witnessed? When will VR or related technology start monetising data flowing from VR usage? These are some of the many questions that come to mind. With not many analyst teams focused on VR, Clifton Dawson decided to venture into this area two years ago with his company Greenlight VR.

“Due to the fragmented nature of the industry, people are still trying to crack the market and are not yet aware of the various business models. Having said that, I believe that 2017 would be the year of survival for the industry because the time horizon for this robust industry to place its foot firmly is much longer due to the few missing pieces that will eventually unfold with time,” Greenlight VR founder and CEO Clifton Dawson says.

With a comprehensive research on the virtual and augmented reality industry, Greenlight Insights provides market intelligence to innovative companies through syndicated research, services and events. Having headquarters in San Francisco and a small set-up in Beijing, Greenlight VR has an employee strength of 20.

Will 2020 be the year of inflection? Dawson clearly rubbishes this thought as he mentions that the focus on 2020 is short-sighted. “2025 is strategically a better year,” he explains, adding that so far there have been launches or expected launches like Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PlayStation VR and Samsung Gear VR.

Dawson points out that presently the VR headsets are of first generation quality and it would improve when the fourth generations sets come in wherein issues relating to audio or (video) display would get resolved. “I truly believe that these headsets would look nothing like the current ones, he adds.”

It is expected that as the industry and technology progress, VR would not just be restricted to the gaming world, but increasingly used by brands for promoting their products, medical college students being taught with the help of VR and property agents using it to sell properties. So, a question arises: which all markets this technology likely to flourish more?

“It’s all about timing as it’s the only thing in question. For now, certain genres of gaming (not casual) would work. As for brand advertisement, it is not there yet. VR mechanism leads to behavioral changes and one needs to crack the code on how to monetise it,” Dawson says.

Will the blend of augmented reality and virtual reality, that is mixed reality (MR), be future? Dismissing this idea outright, Dawson explains, “MR is totally a different ball game. It’s an entirely different technology and requires separate business model and ecosystem.”

Dawson advises people that to succeed in the virtual reality field, one needs to have a 10-year view and not be short-sighted as the returns won’t come so easily. Be patient: is his final suggestion to players and the industry in general.

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