Part I: Virtual Wasteland
It’s been 24 months since the business community really started paying attention to the great new hope that was 360o, VR and AR. As we have watched these experiences developed and brought to market, our hopes have slowly waned. 360o, VR and AR experiences to date, all seem flat and more about sizzle and less about spark. They demonstrate no true understanding of how the user is to be engaged and totally misses the part about an “experience”. But there is real hope, yet.
That hope will come in the form of thought leaders that understand how to create content that is custom made to engage, immerse and enthrall audiences – IN OTHER WORDS, A TRUE USER “EXPERIENCE”. So far, it’s fallen well short of this.
We are in the midst of one of the most powerful platform evolutions since the advent of TV and the Smartphone, and we can’t afford to mess it up. The industry needs to transition and redefine itself. We have time as this is not a sprint.
There is so much to cover regarding the current (and disappointing) state of the industry, and how it has been completely compromised, that we will need several articles to cut through and clarify.
Let’s start with the hardware companies who have forgotten that Content is King as many had intimated 18 months ago. Of course, why would these hardware companies need to worry about content anyhow? They ARE selling hardware after all and as such, why should content really matter to them? Problem is they are trying to sell VR hardware in the same vein as selling a TV set.
As many of you have all seen by now, practically all the hardware companies promote the emotional connection that one experiences through VR, but on balance, and in reality, there is limited to no content to show the audience…. It’s all just a promise that VR will make you feel good. But, It’s not their fault.
That said, you can’t expect consumers to go out and buy their hardware because they saw an ad showing people being entertained with a headset. No content to speak of…just people having fun with a VR device. Wonder how that worked out for them? Please note, you can’t sell hardware without compelling content – and in our judgement and experience, this monumental failure rests on the shoulders of the content creators. But before we move on from this, is it remotely possible for an industry to make accessing VR content any more difficult? If you have tried to use the VR stores and tried to access and manage your VR content on your phone, it’s a User Experience nightmare. Truly, this is where you wish Apple had led the way. They at least understand UX and design. The VR content stores are a mess and the content, itself, far from exciting.
Back to the hardware companies, and it is a shame that these companies aren’t more in the business of supplying some high quality content in much the same manner that Amazon and Netflix produces movies and TV series, and how Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft all produce games for their platforms. Content will always be King and exclusive content will help drive their platform.
Most third-party production folks are only serving consumers lackluster engagement. We are faced with so many disappointments for and industry that had, and still has, so much potential. Done right, 360o and VR are the most emotive, engaging and compelling experiences. All research affirms this. The potential for these powerful tools also extends beyond selling product, services and entertainment. It has the utility to extend to education, medical and training fields as well. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
We would not be doing this series justice if we didn’t cover the costs of these experiences and how brands are being fleeced on production costs. 360o video and VR are the shiny new objects and there are some that are taking advantage of that. In this case, greed is not good.
The relative new-comer - AR has enormous utility and can single handedly change the face of retail, if only our retail partners understood it. We look at some executions and we shake our heads at what could have been. I promise not to make any Pokemon references in this series.
There is so much to cover here, that my colleagues and I decided to deliver this article in three series.
Series I will skewer 360o content.
Series II will talk about the enormous potential of Augmented Reality
Series III will discuss Virtual Reality.
For each piece we will demonstrate how these powerful platforms can be used to solve for different verticals and industries, for both B2B and B2C business problems.