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Five From Five: Mobile AR Competition & Innovation Heats Up

Topic: Mobile Apps | Author: Peggy Anne Salz | Date: January 10, 2011

mobile ARToday the popular (and viral) Five From Five series continues with mobile Augmented Reality (AR) and asks five companies/influencers across the emerging business ecosystem for their pick of hot topic and trends.

Christine Perey is more than an independent analyst; she is a leading – and passionate — evangelist working within the industry to increase deal flow, validate business models, and promote sanity (not hype) in the nascent mobile AR space. She made a huge impression on me when she stepped up to contribute a guest column (one of the most popular on MSearchGroove, I might add) examining mobile AR evolution, use cases and the revenue streams that will help advance the industry.

Her five predictions for 2011:

1.     The mobile AR active user base will break the 10-million barrier but not reach 15 million. In 2011 we will see the early adopter segment of users (which totaled several million at the end of 2010) be eclipsed by the early mainstream users.

2.     A major provider of consumer electronics will introduce its own authoring system for AR, or acquire a mobile AR platform provider (and so attempt to persuade all developers utilizing other AR authoring environments to adopt the new format).  This can be read as a move to counteract the activities of Qualcomm,  which significantly ramped up its mobile AR SDK activities in 2010.

3.     A major reference book/textbook publisher will introduce AR as a key differentiator for its content. Indeed, many publishers of periodicals have dabbled in AR, showcasing it either on their cover or as part of a special issue dedicated to AR. The key element that will push a publisher over the edge will be the combination of eBooks and AR.

4.     Performance of new mobile AR displays will improve (while dropping in price) but remain out-of-reach for mainstream users. In 2011 some segments of the market will find it attractive to offer hands-free AR — and their needs will be met by at least two companies able (and prepared) to offer these capabilities.

5.     Look for at least one major news story to focus on mobile AR and the potential risk to personal privacy and security. We’ve been fortunate and avoided the issue in 2010, but I expect that we will need to confront this in 2011.

Overall, Christine forecasts a “fantastic” growth year for mobile AR. However, she openly admits that forecasting adoption can be tricky. (Especially since no one – not even Christine – has fully defined what constitutes an active user.) What’s more, the industry has yet to establish metrics or methods to measure usage, retention and monetization.) It’s early days in a nascent industry — so this may take time. For the moment some companies are working on mobile AR-specific performance metrics, but most continue to only measure their growth through the total number of requests received by their servers.

Christine is also convinced 2011 will see a lot of first-time users embrace mobile AR. “The question remains: will these people find sufficient value in their early experiences to return for more?” In her view, the industry needs more content publishers willing to take risks and define entirely new experiences. We must therefore do what we can to reduce barriers to entry for the next generation of content and provide them [developers/producers]  tools to really be creative.

christine pereyEditor’s note: Kudos to Christine for walking the talk! In February she will chair the first mobile AR Marketplace. The event will bring together pre-qualified buyers and sellers of the mobile AR ecosystem, providing them with an opportunity to develop and implement win-win business relationships in a uniquely designed environment. Standards is another issue the industry must tackle and Christine is again involved. Specifically, she is a major contributor to the ad hoc community of advocates for the adoption of standards for interoperable AR, content, solutions and services. She will be co-chairing the second International AR Standards Meeting (February 17-19, Barcelona). The meeting immediately follows Mobile World Congress. In addition, she contributes as invited expert to the W3C POI Working Group.


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