Virtual Reality Offers Insight Into the Future Of Smartphones as Sales Drop
As customer demands for smartphones wane, phone makers are trying to renew customer appetite by introducing virtual reality headsets that can be paired with mobile devices to create a better media experience.
Ian Fogg, Head of Mobile Research at IHS, said, “With a slowing smartphone market, one of the ways to generate additional profit is to become a major player in new categories like smartwatches, cameras or virtual reality goggles.”
Phone makers, desperate to revive consumer interest, are turning to virtual reality headsets that can be matched with their devices to view videos and play games.
“These are markets where there is not yet a leader so there is a lot more room for growth,” he told AFP.
Samsung, announced at the Mobile World Congress trade fair in Barcelona that its Gear VR headset would be given away free with every pre-order for its new flagship phone- The Galaxy S7.
Thousands of people put on the headsets – which have a smartphone slot- to view a presentation of the company’s new phones at a congress centre in Barcelona on the start of the fair’s eve.
The crowd was awed as the new phones seemed to float in the air right before their eyes, and when they removed their headsets, standing before them was Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who had made a surprise appearance at the presentation.
The headsets which have been on sale since November are powered by Oculus’ technology, a virtual reality company owned by Facebook, after it bought it for $2 billion in 2014.
“VR is the next platform where anyone can experience anything they want,” he said.
LG, a rival South Korean tech firm, which had poor sales for its mobile business last year, released its virtual reality googles to go with its new G5 smartphone at the fair.
“If this does not tell you the industry is moving to virtual reality, I don’t know what does,” said Jefferson Wang, senior partner at IBB Consulting that focuses on the wireless and tech sectors.
Emphasis is now being placed on virtual reality as it is becoming increasingly obvious that smartphone markets are beginning to slow down.
Even Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC, which has been struggling for a while has decided to refocus on virtual reality over smartphones.
CCS insight, a research firm has predicted that by 2018, sales of virtual reality devices would have grown to 20 million compared to 2.2 million last year.
The company’s chief of research, Ben Wood speaking to AFP said, ”Smartphone virtual reality is poised to be the big volume driver for virtual reality in coming years.”
He also noted that more sophisticated virtual reality headsets that run on an expensive computer will remain a niche product because of their high cost.
However, there were complaints by users of smartphone virtual reality headsets that pixels of images broadcasted could be seen.
Edward Tang, Founder and President of Avegant (a company that makes VR headsets), said, “The quality of the systems is not quite there yet. But there is no doubt virtual reality is here to stay.”