In 1995, Clifford Stoll wrote an article for Newsweek called “The Internet? Bah!”, detailing how he believed that the internet would never take off and it was a waste of time and resources. Stoll writes “The truth is no online database will replace your daily newspaper”. As we now know, newspaper subscriptions are at an all time low. Only 22% of American households hold subscriptions, compared to 59% of American households in 1995.
It can be discouraging when people say similar things about AR, but we have to remember that, like the internet, new technologies take time to accept. Even Robert Metcalfe, inventor of Ethernet, claimed in 1995 that the Internet was “totally screwed” and that it would “catastrophically collapse” by 1996 . Lucky for him, he couldn’t have been more wrong. Only 5 years after he made this statement, 52% of American adults were using the internet. In 2019, 90% of American adults were using the internet on a daily basis, including virtually 100% of those aged 18-25.
Former Vice President of AT&T, Waring Partridge, had his own doubts about the internet, claiming that “most things that succeed don’t require retraining 250 million people”. It can certainly feel impossible for an entire generation to learn something new, but our species has done it time and time again. Such things as driving cars, using computers, and even the concept of gender equality, have mainly taken place over the course of one generation.
Aside from calling AR “gimmicky” or a “passing fad”, many critics take issue with the cost of the equipment. For example, a Magic Leap One headset sells for $2295, and a Microsoft Hololens 2 will cost a bit more than $3000. However, if you compare this to the first commercial cell phone released in 1983 by Motorola, (which cost a whopping $3995, equivalent to over $10000 today), the price doesn’t seem that steep after all.
In contrast to the criticism, many top names such as Tim Cook and Scott Belsky have spoken out in support of AR.
“I do think that a significant portion of the population of developed countries, and eventually all countries, will have AR experiences every day, almost like eating three meals a day. It will become that much a part of you.” — CEO of Apple, Tim Cook
“One of the areas where consumers adopt something new is when it makes something drastically easier. When I think about augmented reality I think about instances like finding your way somewhere, finding your friends in a stadium, or going to a conference and looking around and knowing who everyone is because their LinkedIn profile is hanging over their heads.” — Scott Belsky, CPO of Adobe’s Creative Cloud
So maybe you’re an AR skeptic, and maybe you’re not. Either way, one thing is for certain - early adopters of technology become the frontrunners of revolutions. Don’t wait to adopt AR. Get ahead of the game and start making the steps needed to make your company one of the most technologically advanced in the market.
"The augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) market amounted to a forecast 16.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2019 and is expected to expand dramatically in the coming years, with forecasts for 2023 eclipsing 160 billion U.S. dollars." Statista