9% Of U.S. Broadband Households Plan To Buy A VR Headset; Samsung Leads

shutterstock_491411806_c3KIOtIIt’s still not really in the mass market category, but the number of virtual reality headsets to be bought this year will be nearly double those bought a year ago.

One of the main reasons is that consumers still are not very familiar with virtual reality, based on new tracking data.

Within the next year, 9% of U.S. broadband households plan to purchase a virtual reality headset, up from 5% a year ago, according to research from Parks Associates.

Gaming still leads the list of VR activities. Here, in order, are the activities consumers expect to use virtual reality for:

  1. Play video games
  2. Watch entertainment videos
  3. Virtual tours or travel
  4. Watch live events (sports, concerts, etc.)
  5. Social interaction
  6. Educational purposes
  7. Shopping

There are some obstacles holding back VR growth.

For example, fewer than a quarter (23%) of consumers are familiar with virtual reality and even fewer with specific VR headsets.

“Familiarity is low, with fewer than 13% of consumers having experienced VR first hand,” stated Hunter Sappington, Parks Associates researcher.

Samsung’s Gear VR currently leads the VR market, with Sony’s PlayStation in second place. Among U.S. consumers who bought a VR headset last year, 31% bought a Samsung VR device and 12% bought Sony’s.

Approximately 24 million households worldwide will own at least one virtual reality device by the end of this year and 77 million households by 2021, according to Parks Associates.

Some in the industry are working on this, such as via demos at stores including Best Buy and GameStop.

The biggest VR hurdle at the moment may come down to the value proposition.

While the majority of consumers said they would like to be able to experience VR in their own homes, more than half in the Parks Associates study said they do not think the experience is worth the extra expense of buying a headset. A third of consumers also found the VR experience disorienting or uncomfortable.

Virtual reality still has a few hills to get over.

TV, VR and AR: The Future Frontiers of Social Media

While we often get caught up in the ‘now’ of digital marketing, it’s worth also considering the future, and where you should be paying attention to in the years to come. And while virtual reality is the answer most would revert to when thinking about the future of social, what’s equally important is how we’ll get there, and what, practically, the evolution to these next stages of social communication will mean for you and your business.

Looking at the latest apps and developments, the future of social is currently moving most clearly towards two distinct fronts – taking over television as we know it, and into augmented reality. Virtual reality is the extension of AR, and it’ll take a while to get there, but while AR and VR are very different, the development of the two is closely linked, and will likely evolve in line.

Here’s an overview of the next frontiers of social, what they’ll mean for your business, and what you can do now to prepare.

Televised Revolution

Last year, live-streaming became the thing in social. While live-streaming, as a practice, has been around for some time, the development of mobile live-streaming – kick-started by the now defunct Meerkat – created a new wave which quickly grew to incorporate several platforms and offer various new choices.

But while live-streaming was the impetus, it’s certainly not the end goal. Definitely, the capacity to connect with people in real-time, via video, is an evolutionary step, but what the development of live-streaming really highlighted, more than anything else, is that social networks now have the capacity to do something they’d never considered: to take on traditional TV as they dominant media platform.

Some would argue that social is already the dominant media player, digital content has disrupted newspapers, magazines and radio to a significant degree, with social playing a big part. But TV remains the big one, the key platform for generating reach and engagement – our homes are literally constructed around the television as the prime communal entertainment source.

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Read full article here. 

Facebook’s New Virtual Reality Web Browser

mzuckerbergatoculusconnect3conference_2Marketers are already jumping into Carmel, the new virtual reality web browser that Facebook showed off at its Oculus Connect conference on Thursday.

Ford has developed VR and 360-degree video stories that take viewers inside world-famous races. That fits the style of storytelling that many brands have latched onto to enter VR.

“Brands are definitely thinking of virtual reality and augmented reality,” said Noah Mallin, head of social at MEC North America. “Mark Zuckerberg has made it really clear this is a priority for Facebook. So if it is for Facebook, we have to take it seriously.”

Facebook has been doing yearly Oculus events ever since it bought the virtual reality headset in 2014 for $2 billion, calling it the platform of the future. It finally went on sale this year for $600.

At the Oculus event, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg presented some of the new software for the device, including the virtual reality web browser, which means developers and brands can build sites, not just apps that require downloading.

Read the full article here. 

Facebook Introduces 360 Photos – The Next Step in the VR Shift


Get ready for a whole new way to share experiences on Facebook – rolling out from today, all users will soon be able to upload 360 photos to the platform.

Similar to the Instant Articles lightning bolt icon, 360 photos will have a compass symbol on the right hand side of the photo, signifying that users are able to tilt their phone or drag with their mouse to see more of the image.

Get the full article and some new research HERE.

Why Facebook’s Lovely New VR Film, Shot in Grand Central, Is So Unlike Most 360° Videos


In the infancy of virtual reality, two opposing extremes of 360° films have tended to dominate the brand space. On the one hand, you have your epic visual extravaganzas, including explosive work in gaming. On the other hand, you have quieter, more empathetic filmmaking about putting oneself in another’s reality—although, to create an element of surprise, this other reality is often remote, difficult to access and far removed from one’s own life.

For its first big experimental VR film, Facebook saw an opportunity to make a third kind of piece—one that’s both heightened yet familiar, ambitious yet ordinary, something quietly grand about everyday life. This fits the Facebook brand perfectly, of course—this is, after all, a giant company that enables the smallest, most ordinary moments of human interaction.

The resulting three-and-a-half-minute film, which just rolled out Tuesday, is called “Here and Now.” It was made by The Factory, Facebook’s in-house creative studio, and was shot on—and in some ways serves as advertising for—the Facebook Surround 360 camera, which was introduced last month at F8.

As a story and a piece of craft, it fulfills its high-low mission by showing ordinary moments in a grand space—eight vignettes of people engaging with friends and family in the main concourse at New York’s Grand Central Terminal.

Watch the film below. (It will be on Oculus VR later today.) If your browser has trouble playing it, you can watch it on Facebook instead.

Read full article here.