Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Future Is Finally Here. What Does That Mean For Media Companies?

Virtual reality. For so many years, even just hearing the words got me excited. It has been this "thing" that is going to change the world and the way we live in it. But at the same time, it has always been just out of reach.  At 35, I can recall even at a very young age being told by my parents and teachers that VR is going to be here one of these days. But as I got older, it just never really seemed to materialize. It has always been this illusive target. Believe it or not, but the concept of virtual reality is almost as old as the television. You can watch some early videos of VR on YouTube. It's pretty entertaining. Anyway, are we finally on the verge of a major technological breakthrough that will bring VR to the masses?

VR was brought back to the forefront of technological discussion after the sale of Oculus to Facebook for Billion dollars. This acquisition shows just show serious tech companies are getting about the potential of VR. It leads me to wonder if the future is finally here?

Mark Zuckerberg essentially triple stamped a double stamp (Pro Tip: You can't triple stamp a double stamp; If you know your "Dumb and Dumber" banter) at F8 when we made it clear that VR and AR (augmented reality) are going to be a major part of the strategic vision for Facebook, just as for Google, Samsung and presumably Apple.

A recent article by Justin Hendrix dove into the what all of this means for media companies. He argues that since there is a significant chance VR will emerge as an important communications medium in the next decade, it's time to structure experiments to build expertise and open up opportunities. The challenge is that many media companies are already spread thin from a budgetary standpoint in order to keep pace with the transition to mobile and the increased focus on big data. Additionally, there doesn't seem to be any type of business model that can be utilized. The best way to stay ahead of the game will be to encourage first-mover employees to experiment and to partner with universities and tech companies. The both seem to have the financial resources and enthusiasm for VR, but are lacking in the content department.

I am curious to see how tech and media companies alike begin to utilize this new exciting technology. Discovery has already started making investments in VR. This might be the only way I can get my soon-to-be wife to go on a safari, or sky diving with me. This should Hopefully if and when VR does go mainstream it will be more than just "the world's greatest porn machine". Not that there is anything wrong with that from a business perspective. Someone is going to make a killing doing that, but I digress. Would love to hear your opinions on this. is VR just going to be for gamers and lonely people, or will other industries take advantage of the new wave of enthusiasm and create experiential products that can be enjoyed by the masses?

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