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App Developers Focus Efforts on Devices from Trusted Brands
Wearable Tech World Feature Article
July 23, 2015
App Developers Focus Efforts on Devices from Trusted Brands
By Steve Anderson
Contributing TMCnet Writer

There's an old saying often given to budding writers: write what you know. The suggestion essentially calls on the newcomers to focus on those areas in which there's already a certain level of expertise. This old platitude doesn't seem to be limited to writers anymore, as a new report from Epson and suggests that app developers were doing likewise when it came to apps for smart glasses, and developers weren't alone on that front.

Essentially, the study of over 500 developers and 3,000 consumers—titled “The Current View of Smart Glasses”—revealed that, when it came to smart glasses, the most interest was focused on firms that were already well-known. Developer awareness was focused on major brands, including entries from Samsung, Sony, Microsoft, Google (News - Alert), the Oculus Rift from Facebook, and yes, even Epson. However, this didn't always hold true for products that were just backed by major firms; just under 60 percent were aware of the Magic Leap startup backed by Google. Smart headsets from places like Vuzix, ODG, and Recon Jet were down around 29 percent.

App development roadmaps were likewise influenced by major players; 44 percent have included devices from major brands, and even the Magic Leap came in at 27 percent of the time. It proved the exception among the lesser-known brands, however, as just 12 percent had included devices from start-up firms. The leader right now is the Oculus Rift, with 15 percent of developers working on apps for it. Close behind is Google Cardboard at 12 percent, then Epson Moverio at 10 percent, and finally Google Glass at nine percent.

Potential customers, meanwhile, had some clear expectations. Most customers were willing to pay between $200 and $399 for a virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) device, and price was just the third consideration in terms of purchase. Customers were looking for functionality and availability of apps ahead of price, and in that order, too. Twenty-six percent of potential customers were clearly in favor of an established brand, however.

Both sides of the aisle, meanwhile, had no misconceptions about what VR and AR systems needed to do: the top app categories for both were gaming and entertainment, travel and recreation, and education. Mass market adoption rates were a bit skewed, with VR set to be mass market in one to two years, and AR in three to five years.

This is both good news and bad. While there's a clear demand for such systems—plenty of people out there have wanted a VR system since the earliest days of VR—it's also skewing heavily away from the releases of startups. Not without some reason, of course; this is still a very early technology, and people likely feel safer going with a brand that's already known and trusted rather than ending up with some half-useless system that cost a few hundred bucks. That's going to make it tough for startups to compete, however, at least in the early stages.

Either way, the VR and AR markets are starting to shape up, and the competitors are taking places at the starting gate. The race should be quite the sight no matter what platform you view it on. 

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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