December could be when Virtual Reality headsets finally make their mark on our homes. Certainly, that's what Sony will be hoping. The launch of their PlayStation VR headset in October has meant that this £350 accessory is being talked about as the must-have for Christmas 2016. Meanwhile, PlayStation’s VR experience could hit the ground running in the console gaming market, where product innovation is at the forefront of future growth strategies. And the Oculus Rift and HTC’s Vive could be tempting to owners of high-end PCs.
But while there are certainly a lot of profits to be made in these markets, the actual number of consumers with devices compatible with VR headsets is relatively low. The next stage of Google’s VR initiative – Daydream, could hold the solution. By promising to bring high-quality smartphone-enabled VR to the masses, devices like Daydream could unlock the true potential of VR.
GlobalWebIndex’s research shows that smartphone ownership is now almost universal among the internet population and that digital consumers are most likely to cite their mobile as their most important device. These new devices could present the key growth areas for VR, allowing it to bypass cost restrictions and maximise exposure.
Ultimately, for VR to make it to the mainstream, developers need to target consumers on the devices that they are already using, which is where the smartphone stands as the strongest contender.
Processing powers, screen resolutions and in-built camera technologies are all improving rapidly in the smartphone industry. Many new premium smartphones boast 360-degree video capturing capabilities, essentially opening the door to user-generated content in the VR space.
More than 7 in 10 16-34s watch videos on mobiles each month, with well over half uploading their own videos online. And with social platforms shifting towards mobile, as well as concentrating on their online video offerings, integrating VR here could be a prime method for social networks to stand out from the crowd.
Mobile will surely be the first point of call for the majority of first-time VR users, and as a result developers need to invest the most time and effort in them. After all, the requisites for VR to push into the mainstream – primarily affordability and the need for engaging content which meets consumer expectations – see some of the most promise in the smartphone.