Right now tens of millions of young “millenials” in 196 countries are sitting in their bedrooms, staring into a smartphone or tablet screen, experiencing very boring and conventional 2D content. It fascinates them at this age, because the young brain is easily fascinated. When you are under 16 or so, you are not very discerning yet, and your brain is forgiving of content that is, actually, not that great at all.
Just like my generation sat in a bedroom 30 years ago, and was staring at a Commodore 64 or Atari or Nintendo screen or watching a B-quality fantasy movie on VHS or Betamax tape. That was all 2D too.
My generation graduated from those early experiences to every more exciting stuff - hardware accelerated 3D games using the first Nvidia or Vodoo GPUs for example.
We spent more and more money on Playstation 2s, and Pentium gaming PCs, coin operated Arcade games with hydraulic or haptic feedback and more.
Hell, we saw pictures of early concept VR headsets in computer magazines in the 1990s, and also got to wear some VR headsets in Arcades that actually had them and said “me want this so bad!”.
We didn’t “get stuck” in our 2D bedroom experience as 8 to 10 year olds - we grew into teenagers and then tweenagers and wanted ever more exciting and innovative stuff as we grew older. We wanted it in 3D as well.
As the young millenials grow older they will want something far better and more exciting than 2D smartphones and tablets can deliver. They will want it to be 3D, lifelike, interactive and compelling.
VR and AR is currently the only thing on the horizon that can make that happen for the millenials. It and 3D cinema is the only thing that can give them “the next level” of interactive sattisfaction.
So VR/AR probably is not going to die completely at all. If they can make the headsets CHEAP, LIGHTWEIGHT and GOOD enough to entice millenials, then you are looking at a MASSIVE new market worldwide.
Seriously, what else is there on the horizon that millenials can grow into to from “smartphonitis” and “tabletitis”? Are they going to get superpowers or fly around in jetpacks in the next 10 years? Is somebody going to give teenagers little 2000 Dollar Tesla cars that they can afford to buy and drive around in?
It is VR/AR that millenials are going to flock to.
Grown adults like us are at a stage in our cognitive development where stuff that is “exciting” often strikes us as being “meh”.
But if we were 12 - 18 years old right now, an HTC Vive or Oculus Rift might be exactly what we’d be drooling over on the internet, or talking about excitedly in the schoolyard.
VR headsets aren’t cheap enough yet to become an affordable item for young people. Not everybody has affluent parents who can drop 2K to 3K on a VR setup that will become obsolete in 3 years.
Once this stuff is so cheap that it becomes like the Walkmans and VCRs and CD Players we had as young people, lots of young people will buy into this.
We grownups are NOT the main target market for VR/AR. It is the young generation that is the target, but the devices are not affordable enough yet for 12 - 16 year olds to buy easily.
As far as us grownups are concerned, our brains are far more focused on the real world at this stage than fantasy worlds or game worlds or even film worlds.
We are a target market for Augmented Reality when it gets really usable. We are going to stay in the physical world where we are now comfortable, but are going to have it enriched with AR graphics.
The younglings are at a point cognitively where their minds are wide open to “fantasy” and “make believe” and “imagined” experiences.
They are going to be the ones that voluntarily escape into VR fantasy experiences and VR games and VR fiction. That is what engages you at that stage - fantasy, and not so much the real world.
And they are going to be the ones who are so “wired into the internet” that daily AR use will be just about inescapable for them.
I’m sure that I’ll still be checking my emails on a conventional laptop 10 years from now - that is what I am used to.
Millenials will have their emails float as 3D text in front of their AR goggles while they walk down the street, or even teleconference with each other all the time using AR and telepresence, while we old farts still give each other audiocalls on boring telephones.
Always do this when you evaluate a new technology - ask yourself “if I were 16 years old today, had a lot of free time and was constantly hungry for stimulation, would I want to buy this?”
Again, we 30 or 40 year olds are NOT the target market for VR/AR. We grew up in an age where there WAS digital experience, but we didn’t really leave the physical world for long periods of time at all.
That doesn’t mean that millenials will be just like us at all. They may very well want to spend 6 - 10 hours a day in a VR world, or have AR capability at hand 24/7, basically wherever they go.
Just like our generation does not like to venture outside without a smartphone at hand, the millenials may not want to venture outside without a pair of AR goggles on their heads or in their pockets.