We all are the VR killer application
Do you want to know my opinion on VR Killer application? My opinion is: I’ve had enough of this “Killer application” story.
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Ok, ok, just kidding… I’ll explain you my opinion in deeper details.
Let’s start from the definition everyone gives about “Killer application”: something so useful, so amazing that people will buy virtual reality hardware just to have it. And we’re not talking about innovators (innovators like me buy a VR headset even if it is super expensive), we’re talking about “the chasm”, the Average Joe out there.
A virtual reality headset costs hundreds of dollars, plus the money to buy a VR-ready PC if you don’t have one. So we’re looking for a VR application that is so amazing that people is ready to spend hundred of dollars to have it. We’re looking for something that solves a problem so huge that people will crave to have a VR headset and spend a lot of money just to have it. Uhm.
When talking about our full body VR solution ImmotionRoom with an investor, he said to us: why should I spend $2000 just to have my full body in virtual reality and play soccer with it? He was right. We were solving a problem of virtual reality (having full body in VR without wearing anything), but the price was too expensive for the reward we were offering.
What expensive technologies I craved to have in the past, when I was just an Average Joe guy?
- A freezer: when I was very little, my fridge had no freezer. It was a pain not being able to buy lots of ice creams and store them in the freezer to be able to eat them all the week. Ice creams are an important reason to spend money for.
- Video recorder: I was really tired of missing all those beautiful programs that were aired on TV when I could not watch them. So I really wanted to have a video recorder to be able to save them to a cassette, so i could watch them the day after. Or keep them with me forever to watch them everytime I wanted to see them. I’m talking about a time where there was no Netflix or such, of course (I had not even an Internet connection, to be honest).
- Cell phone: everytime I had to meet somewhere with friends it was a nuisance to handle all inconvenients. If I got lost, how could I call them? Furthermore they already had a cell phone and they used it to decide where to go, so I had to have it to be part of this decision process.
As you can see, there were 3 strong reasons to have them (notice my words “pain”, “nuisance”, etc…) . A very particular reason, the solution to ONE GREAT PROBLEM. One problem I already have and I wanted something to solve.
Let’s be honest: I’ve no real problem that VR is able to solve. Nothing that makes me say “thanks God, I’ve VR, now I’m much more relieved”. I’ve tried lots of different VR apps and read reviews about even more, but no one solves me some huge problems. And no clear problem means no compelling reason to buy for average people. This is the first rule for every business.
So most people starts saying that when “The VR Killer application” will come, we’ll all understand that VR is what we’ve always needed in our life. But, let’s be honest, this has no sense. And the reason is that this super-application should solve a problem we already crave to be solved thanks to VR… a problem we already have. Oculus Rift is a 2012 product (feel old yet?)… don’t you think that if we all had a super-problem that VR can solve, someone in this 5 years would already made at least a prototype solution for that?
So, VR doesn’t solve a problem. Speaking as a startupper, I may say that it satisfies a need, that is we have to create the problem itself and make people understand that VR solves that. But this is hard.
Most people make a comparison between VR and early smartphones, early PCs or early Internet… and I think it is true. But now I’ve a question for you: what was the killer application for PCs? And for smartphones? And for internet??
Well, there was not as far as I can remember. I wanted all these things because they offered me an ecosystem, because they offered me opportunities… not because of ONE thing. PCs offered me a way of playing games, but also of writing documents and to connect with the world; Internet enabled me to search for stuff in the web (so to make homeworks was great), to play, to download stuff, to watch porn; Smartphones enabled me to have a little PC on my pocket… and also to show people how cool I was in having a smartphone!
VR is not a technology that can solve a big problem for consumers, like the video recorder, it is more an enabling technology. VR enables us to enter a new world where we can be whatever we want with whoever we like. Its power will depend on its ecosystem. VR ecosystem is growing and always more apps are popping out (and not only games). The more it grows, the more opportunities it will offer and on the top of this opportunities, new innovative apps will be created. When we’ll have lots of apps on the various stores and various online services, people will see VR compelling because it will offer lots of different useful opportunities: hard gaming, VR social connections, immersive porn, creative art, relaxation, etc… And if the price will be fair enough, they’ll buy a VR headset to be able to catch all these opportunities.
Furthermore if VR will be owned by more people, people will see it even more interesting, because VR social will be rich, VR multiplayer will be satisfying and also people could talk each other about the amazing VR experiences they’re having each day. Also having lots of resources online is able to make the experience better, because you can find a way to solve all of your problems with a Google search, for instance… you can read reviews and so on.
VR will be compelling when it will be so rich that people will see they’re missing a lot of opportunities without having it: this is something similar to the reason why I wanted an internet connection.
So, VR Killer application is the VR ecosystem itself. And we’re all building it together. Please just give us time to make it.
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