Virtual reality adoption and the weekly roundup in tech and retail

News and commentaries

The very first iPhone was released in June 2007. 74 days later, iPhone sales reached 1 million units and 100 million units in 3 years. To date, 700 million iPhone devices have been sold. If we’re to look at smartphones in general (iOS, Android, etc.) the US has 70% smartphone penetration and IDC forecasted a worldwide smartphone shipment of 1.4 billion units for 2015.

It’s safe to say that in less than a decade, we have reached the late majority (maybe even approaching the laggards) of the smartphone adoption.

The question is, will we have a similar (or longer) trajectory for VR devices? I was asked this question the other day: how long do I think VR adoption will take? Within 5 years? 10 years?

My answer initially was: certainly NOT within 5 years but maybe within 10 years. But now, actually looking at data on smartphone sales, I’m now leaning towards the 5-year timeline.

What’s different now for VR devices?

  • When the iPhone was first launched, internet connectivity was not as ubiquitous as it is today. Load times for anything – within the browser or the app – were excruciatingly slow that you end up with a glorified feature phone really. Compare that to today and you have networks competing to be your data download/upload facilitator – just look at T-Mobile’s efforts.
  • There’s already a very healthy and thriving app ecosystem which means building apps for VR would be a natural extension for developers. Remember when “Ant Smasher” was the coolest game on your iPhone? I do. Last weekend, I got a chance to finally try Google Cardboard and played Deep Space Battle with it. I’m not a gamer but I can totally see myself spending a lot of time on the Rift. I also “walked around” Hong Kong via Google’s Street View. Apps like these are just bound to improve and the state of where they’re at right now is already impressive.

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  • In general we are more open to new devices. I live in Boca Raton, FL, a place for retirees. You’d be surprised at how many of these guys are rocking the Apple Watch. To say that people – from millenials to baby boomers – are comfortable with strapping devices on themselves is an understatement. You can argue that VR needs to come up with a more compelling reason than gaming. How about we use VR to view adorable videos of grandkids from 5000 miles away as if they’re right there in our living room? That’s a compelling reason right there.

It’s time to stop thinking that VR/augmented reality belongs in the far-off future. It simply is another interface for today. One that developers and content creators are gearing up for. It’s an interface that networks and hardware are capable of supporting. Most importantly, it’s an interface that we are more than ready to embrace.

Here are this week’s most relevant news in tech and retail.

In tech:

  1. Apple-FBI battle is over but Silicon Valley is preparing for the privacy war
  2. Hacker sells data stolen from Verizon’s enterprise customers
  3. Snapchat reportedly paid $100 million for a startup that makes an emoji look eerily like you
  4. China moves to contend in chip making
  5. Paul Allen Gives $100 Million to Enable ‘Bioscience’ Research

In retail:

  1. Alibaba hits 3 trillion yuan transaction milestone
  2. Amazon will sell more PlayStation VR bundles starting tomorrow
  3. No big surprises in Nike, Inc.’s latest strong quarter
  4. American Apparel offering on-demand delivery via Postmates partnership
  5. Pebble to lay off 25% of workforce

Note: This post was partly inspired by this article: Gene Munster thinks virtual reality will be the ultimate iPhone killer.

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