Augmented reality and mixed reality present many opportunities for application enhancement and new monetization opportunities, a new report shows, but the technologies are still a long-way from being an everyday feature of consumers' lives. The report, from industry analyst Futuresources, synthesizes fieldwork drawn from vendors, content creators and service providers, along with mobile device forecasts and existing research. It found that the race is on to develop the essential killer application and, ultimately, to establish the dominant platform for mobile AR/MR content.
"Although the mobile AR/MR proposition is very much in its infancy today, the end-game is clear for Facebook, Apple, Google, SnapChat, Microsoft et al," says Michael Boreham, market analyst at Futuresource Consulting. "AR/MR is considered to be the next major computing platform, offering a revolutionary technological leap that has the potential to evolve and enhance our digital interaction across industries such as communication, utilities, entertainment and e-commerce."
While the majority of attention has been focused on the drive to establish virtual reality as the next must have consumer device, 2017 has seen an increasing amount of activity in the AR and MR space, with an increasing number of industry heavyweights throwing their hats into the ring.
The value of the overall consumer mobile AR/MR market reached $1.7 billion in 2016, spearheaded by applications like Snapchat and Pokémon Go. Futuresource finds the market overinflated as a result of the rapid short-term success and subsequent loss of momentum of Pokémon Go, and expects market contraction to US$1.4 billion this year.
However, the longer-term outlook is for a startling 77 percent compound annual growth rate between 2017-2021, with mobile AR/MR soaring to $14.1 billion market valuation by the end of 2021.
Social media networks are predicted to play a major part in this growth by capitalizing on their device agnostic approach, huge user reach and ability to innovate. The key challenge is to develop the range of essential applications that will drive consumer adoption.
Advertising will be the other key component of the consumer AR/MR market, driven by search and social media, as Google, Apple and Facebook all incorporate more AR functionality into current utility services.
"In reality, it may be the best part of a decade before the emergence of a killer AR/MR app appears. However, as technology develops and affordable devices come to market, AR/MR will be pushed into the mainstream for everyday use, especially for entertainment and utility tasks," Boreham says. "The key battle is not which platform is the most innovative, as the social media networks are looking over each other's shoulders and mirroring their ideas, but which ecosystem will win out. Ultimately, the end-game is who will own the customer and where will they conduct their mobile computing needs whilst utilizing AR/MR?"
This report forms part of Futuresource's VR quarterly tracking service providing in-depth trend analysis and industry forecasts across both technology and content. It considers the opportunities afforded by mobile AR and MR in entertainment/gaming, advertising and e-commerce; outlines the key drivers to stimulate adoption; and investigates whether mobile AR/MR will prove to be a stepping stone to higher end applications when AR/MR enabled smart glasses eventually come to market as a commercial proposition.
Futuresource's report on AR and MR in mobile is now available on the Futuresource report portal.