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AR, VR, return to growth

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The worldwide augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) headset market returned to growth after a year of decline as global shipments during the first quarter of 2019 (1Q19) reached 1.3 million, up 27.2% from the same quarter last year. The overall AR/VR market has begun to grow again thanks to a surge in shipments of standalone head-mounted displays (HMDs) and tethered HMDs that helped to offset the decline in the low-end, screenless viewer segment, according to the International Data Corporation (IDCWorldwide Quarterly Augmented and Virtual Reality Headset Tracker.

VR headsets represented 96.6% of the combined AR/VR market during the quarter with strong volumes from top companies such as Sony, Facebook, HTC, Pico, and 3Glasses. The top five vendors captured 65.1% of the total VR headset market.

“Facebook has promised to bring VR to the masses and it took its latest steps toward realizing this vision with new standalone and tethered headset releases during the quarter,” said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC’s Mobile Device Trackers. “The company’s new $399 standalone Oculus Quest began shipping this quarter and has enjoyed positive reviews, and its new Rift S offers an updated take on its pioneering tethered headset. These products, along with other new offerings from companies such as HTC and Valve, should position the VR market for solid growth through the rest of the year.”

While AR market volumes remain low, there is clear momentum here as well. Top AR headset makers included Epson, Lenovo, Vuzix, Google, and RealWear during 1Q19.

“Enterprise AR is evolving quickly and many companies are actively looking for hardware solutions they can use to improve existing business processes and drive new ones,” said Tom Mainelli, group vice president, Consumer and Devices Research at IDC. “Vendors shipping robust, ready-to-use products today are seeing increased traction and we expect their volumes to increase notably through the rest of this year. We have also seen new product announcements from players large and small that should help drive increased momentum and shipments when these products begin shipping later this year.”

IDC anticipates the growth trend established in the first quarter will continue as global shipments for AR/VR headsets are forecast to reach 7.6 million units in 2019, up from 5.9 million in 2018. Much of this growth will occur in the commercial segment, which will consume roughly one of every three headsets shipped in 2019.

IDC expects standalone and tethered headsets to drive the VR market growth. Standalone VR headsets will capture 38.2 % of the VR market in 2019, up from 26.6% in 2018. Tethered VR headsets will have a share of 46.1% this year, versus 44.1% last year. Finally, screenless viewers will decline to 15.7%, down from 29.3% last year.

Standalone will play an even larger role in AR for 2019, where IDC expects it to capture 53.9% of the market, up from 47.8% last year. Tethered and screenless viewers will capture 27% and 19.1% in 2019, respectively. While the tethered segment is small today, IDC expects it to play a larger role in the future, as it’s likely the first truly consumer-oriented products will use this form factor down the road.

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Millennials turning 40: NOW will you stop targeting them?

It’s one of the most overused terms in youth marketing, and probably the most inaccurate, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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One of the most irritating buzzwords embraced by marketers in recent years is the term “millennial”. Most are clueless about its true meaning, and use it as a supposedly cool synonym for “young adults”. The flaw in this targeting – and the word “flaw” here is like calling the Grand Canyon a trench – is that it utterly ignores the meaning of the term. “Millennials” are formally defined as anyone born from 1980 to 2000, meaning they have typically come of age after the dawn of the millennium, or during the 21st century.

Think about that for a moment. Next year, the millennial will be formally defined as anyone aged from 20 to 40. So here you have an entire advertising, marketing and public relations industry hanging onto a cool definition, while in effect arguing that 40-year-olds are youths who want the same thing as newly-minted university graduates or job entrants.

When the communications industry discovers just how embarrassing its glib use of the term really is, it will no doubt pivot – millennial-speak for “changing your business model when it proves to be a disaster, but you still appear to be cool” – to the next big thing in generational theory.

That next big thing is currently Generation Z, or people born after the turn of the century. It’s very convenient to lump them all together and claim they have a different set of values and expectations to those who went before. Allegedly, they are engaged in a quest for experience, compared to millennials – the 19-year-olds and 39-olds alike – supposedly all on a quest for relevance.

In reality, all are part of Generation #, latching onto the latest hashtag trend that sweeps social media, desperate to go viral if they are producers of social content, desperate to have caught onto the trend before their peers.

The irony is that marketers’ quest for cutting edge target markets is, in reality, a hangover from the days when there was no such thing as generational theory, and marketing was all about clearly defined target markets. In the era of big data and mass personalization, that idea seems rather quaint.

Indeed, according to Grant Lapping, managing director of DataCore Media, it no longer matters who brands think their target market is.

“The reason for this is simple: with the technology and data digital marketers have access to today, we no longer need to limit our potential target audience to a set of personas or segments derived through customer research. While this type of customer segmentation was – and remains – important for engagements across traditional above-the-line engagements in mass media, digital marketing gives us the tools we need to target customers on a far more granular and personalised level.

“Where customer research gives us an indication of who the audience is, data can tell us exactly what they want and how they may behave.”

Netflix, he points out, is an example of a company that is changing its industry by avoiding audience segmentation, once the holy grail of entertainment.

In other words, it understands that 20-year-olds and 40-year-olds are very different – but so is everyone in between.

* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

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Robots coming to IFA

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Robotics is no longer about mechanical humanoids, but rather becoming an interface between man and machine. That is a key message being delivered at next month’s IFA consumer electronics expo in Berlin. An entire hall will be devoted to IFA Next, which will not only offer a look into the future, but also show what form it will take.

The concepts are as varied as the exhibitors themselves. However, there are similarities in the various products, some more human than others, in the fascinating ways in which they establish a link between fun, learning and programming. In many cases, they are aimed at children and young people.

The following will be among the exhibitors making Hall 26 a must-visit:

Leju Robotics (Stand 115) from China is featuring what we all imagine a robot to be. The bipedal Aelos 1s can walk, dance and play football. And in carrying out all these actions it responds to spoken commands. But it also challenges young researchers to apply their creativity in programming it and teaching it new actions. And conversely, it also imparts scholastic knowledge.

Cubroid (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Korea starts off by promoting an independent approach to the way it deals with tasks. Multi-functional cubes, glowing as they play music, or equipped with a tiny rotating motor, join together like Lego pieces. Configuration and programming are thus combined, providing a basic idea of what constitutes artificial intelligence.

Spain is represented by Ebotics (Stand 218). This company is presenting an entire portfolio of building components, including the “Mint” educational program. The modular system explains about modern construction, programming and the entire field of robotics.

Elematec Corporation (Stand 208) from Japan is presenting the two-armed SCARA, which is not intended to deal with any tasks, but in particular to assist people with their work.

Everybot (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Japan approaches the concept of robotics by introducing an autonomous floor-cleaning machine, similar to a robot vacuum cleaner.

And Segway (Stand 222) is using a number of products to explain the modern approach to battery-powered locomotion.

IFA will take place at the Berlin Exhibition Grounds (ExpoCenter City) from 6 to 11 September 2019. For more information, visit www.ifa-berlin.com

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