CNET and IDC Team Up for a Horribly Misguided Take on AR

Anne Dujmovic, writing for CNET:

Virtual reality, which virtually transports you to a computer-generated world via a headset like Sony’s PlayStation VR or Facebook’s Oculus Rift, is expected to remain ahead of AR in headset shipments in the next five years. But that’s partly because, IDC said, AR is “harder to achieve.” In augmented reality, digital images are laid on top of images in the real world on your phone or a headset. (Think Pokemon Go.)

But the IDC said AR is set to “fundamentally change” industrial jobs in the next five years. Over the same period, it said it expects a little over 80 percent of all AR headsets shipments to be for commercial use.

I’m not sure if Dujmovic and her editors were trying to turn a benignly irrelevant analyst forecast into a hot take, if they’re woefully ignorant about AR in general, or if the truth lies somewhere in between. To say, “Virtual reality … is expected to remain ahead of AR in headset shipments in the next five years” is to miss the point entirely. By a wide, wide margin.

Near-term AR is all about not needing a headset. Pokemon Go proved this last summer. Apple ARKit will prove it again on a wider scale when iOS 11 rolls out this Fall. Consumers will try Augmented Reality apps because downloading, installing, and running them will work just like any other app, on the phones they already use, no headset required.

The fact that Pokemon Go is used as the example to explain AR in the context of, “AR headsets will lag behind” is baffling. Tens of millions of people roamed the Earth last summer, heads buried in screens, no headsets required, playing Pokemon Go.