How your startup can take advantage of the year of virtual reality

Person wearing a virtual reality headset


Virtual reality is one of the hottest markets right now, and everything suggests that it’s likely to explode in 2016.

According to recent estimates from global market research firm TrendForce, the total value of VR market will reach $6.7 billion this year with an outlook of potentially reaching $70 billion in 2020.

Big companies understand this opportunity, with Facebook and Samsung teaming up to ship $99 VR device to the masses. Google has shipped over five million Cardboards in January 2016 and over 1000 compatible applications have been published for the device. Apple now offers $30 View Master Headsets and is working on its own virtual reality ideas.  And then there’s Sony, HTC, OSVR and others.

Consequently, VR and wearables are believed to be the next big thing in app development. An increasing number of devices are being shipped every month, as more and more users desperately need instant access to apps, games and movies.

Hardware manufacturers have been working with developers to grab a share of the ever-growing market, securing exclusive titles and pushing out the most exciting new uses of VR.

There is no doubt they all understand that whoever builds the world’s biggest and best VR app store is winning the race.

For entrepreneurs and developers who want to build apps for VR this is a huge opportunity. Market timing is the most important factor in business success. And the timing really couldn’t be any better.

Sure, the market is still relatively new – there aren’t many people who own VR devices – but the number is inevitably growing. And mainstream players are also getting on board.

The NBA has pursued VR broadcasting this season “to provide fans at home an experience akin to watching games live at the arena”. And The New York Times has launched a free smartphone app that provides 360 degree, virtual reality, news videos. Facebook isn’t far behind with developing a mobile app for viewing virtual reality videos too.

The only thing that can slow down the opportunity is the success of adoption of new devices.  Although VR isn’t mainstream yet, it’s definitely on its way.

Firstly, the hardware is cheap. Secondly, mainstream customers are already accustomed to consuming content in the comfort of their homes. Only the experience gets better.

The number of ways VR devices can be used and experienced is countless. In a couple of years, it won’t be unusual to get on a flight and have almost everybody on the plane wearing a VR headset. It will transform the corporate world too. VR can completely eliminate in-person meetings – one of the biggest productivity wasters in the corporate world.

There’s also shopping, media, games, entertainment, training, education and the list goes on. In the near future, among all product categories, social media, and entertainment have the biggest potential to deliver the next blockbuster.

Quite possibly, the next Instagram, Snapchat or YouTube will be a VR app. So if you’re an entrepreneur or an app developer, you definitely don’t want to miss out the opportunity.

Mark McDonald is the co-founder and co-CEO of Appster, a leading mobile app and product development company with offices in Melbourne and San Francisco.

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Mark McDonald is the co-founder and co-CEO of Appster, a leading mobile app and product development company with offices in Melbourne and San Francisco. He writes for StartupSmart about entrepreneurship, growing a startup and personal branding.