I recently read a post on Quora on why startups fail. The common theme among a plethora of answers is that “There was no real demand for the product”. This really got me thinking. Does virtual reality really has a market or is it just a fad that may pass away. It is easy to get swayed by rosy speeches by startup founders on why “VR is the next big thing.”.
In their defense, Startup founders tend to be a bit biased since it is their product and they have to be passionate about it for their product to succeed. Just because Pokemon became a huge hit doesn’t mean Virtual reality is gonna be widely accepted. For a platform to be widely accepted, it needs to have a large variety of content. The games and apps developed for virtual reality so far seem more like a demonstration of the technology rather than developing it to a wholesome product.
What makes a product stick to the masses?
Do you know why people queue in line to buy the latest iPhone or go weak in their knees after seeing a Louis vuitton bag?. They both sell products that are quite luxurious and need not be customised. Apple users can sync their devices very easily. The customer wants ease of use and Apple gives it to them. For every product in the market, it follows a cycle. First, there is the early user who doesn’t mind an inferior product but who really cares about the idea or the innovative feature in it. But as the product grows, for it to be embraced by a wider audience it needs to have ease of use future and have great content.
The customer is really price conscious and is resistant of change
This is a reality check that many Virtual reality founders fail to understand. The bulk of the revenue comes from the middle part of the bell curve, the people who seem reluctant of your ideas. If virtual reality is going to take the next big leap, it really needs to keep its pulse on this part of the audience. You know why I don’t use a kindle?. My laptop pretty much does the same job, Similary, many people feel that their current movie experience seems good enough. The job is to convince them otherwise.
Companies need to convince the developers to develop more content
I can’t stress this enough. Companies really need to invest huge pool of resources to develop awesome content in the VR platform. There just isn’t enough apps and games to lure a normal user into the VR platform. I will give an example. In the Indian telecom industry, the data and the call rates was really high just 3 months ago. With the entry of Jio, the data prices were rapidly reduced by all the incumbents in the industry. That is how you impact a market.
There is a market for everything, the customer just doesn’t know it yet
This is something i learnt after reading Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs. When Steve introduced the Iphone1 in the town hall, nobody thought people would buy them. People were happy with using Black Berries and Nokia phones. We are basically social animals. Nothing satisfies us and there is nothing wrong in it. Virtual reality products can really change the way we live. But ideas count for squat. You know how many people started search engines before Google?. The execution of an idea matters more than the idea itself.
So conducting market research is really a wasteful experiment for an immature product.
So in conclusion, the user really needs to be very comfortable with the product and it needs to be worth the money. The person selling the product needs to be in touch with the ground realities rather than getting too passionate about the product and living in his own reality. There needs to be content in the platforms in such a way that it changes the daily life of the user significantly.