Is Apple, Facebook Or Microsoft The Future Of Augmented Reality?

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Apple (AAPL) is seen by some as critical to the future of augmented reality, despite limited traction for ARKit so far and its absence from smartglasses (again so far). Yet Facebook (FB), Microsoft (MSFT) and others are arguably more important to where the market is today. While there are more AR platforms than just these companies, they represent the top of the pyramid for three different types of AR roadmap. And while startup insurgents could make a huge difference, big platforms can exert disproportionate influence on the future of tech markets.

All of this could see the augmented reality market growing from an active installed base approaching 900 million and over $8 billion revenue in 2019, to an augmented reality forecast over two and a half billion active installed base and nearly $60 billion revenue by 2024. Let’s see what this could mean for the future of AR.

Facebook – the messaging play

Facebook has talked about its long term potential to launch smartglasses, but in 2020 its primary presence in the AR market is as a mobile AR platform (note: Facebook is also a VR market leader with Oculus). Although there are other ways to define them, mobile AR platforms can be thought of as three broad types:

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(Source: Digi-Capital AR/VR Analytics Platform. Note: free charts do not include numbers, axes and data from subscriber version, with underlying hard data sourced directly from companies and reliable secondary sources. Specific data points are referenced in the text. Methodology in companion Augmented/Virtual Reality Report Q1 2020.)  

In terms of active installed bases, messaging based mobile AR is forecast to grow from over 600 million in 2019 to over 1.3 billion by 2024, OS based mobile AR from over 200 million in 2019 to over 1 billion by 2024, followed by web-based mobile AR (at a much higher growth rate). This could see all mobile AR platforms combined active installed base grow from less than 900 million in 2019 to over 2.5 billion in 5 years time. (Note: total figures for active installed base types inherently involve double counting, exaggerating total figures due to users active on more than one platform. However, this enables direct comparison between different platform types and platforms.

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Don T. Sloan 8 months ago Member's comment

I remember when everyone said Nintendo would be the future of augmented reality, whatever happened with that?