VR fails to impress American teens, survey shows

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A new survey released by investment banking firm Piper Sandler this week showed that despite the growing popularity of VR technology, American teenagers are not yet convinced of its appeal.

Conducted in February, the survey involved more than 5,600 teenagers. It revealed that even though 87 percent of teenagers owned an iPhone, only 29 percent had a VR device. Only four percent of those who owned a VR device used it daily, while 14 percent used it weekly.

The findings also suggested that teenagers were not enthusiastic about purchasing upcoming VR headsets. Only seven percent expressed their intention to buy a headset, in contrast to 52 percent who were uncertain or uninterested.

The general public has yet to embrace VR tech, even though big tech behemoths have invested a lot of money, and many low-cost VR headsets are already available.

Piper Sandler analysts wrote that the underwhelming use of VR devices highlights that virtual reality is still in its “early days” and not as important as smartphones.

VR is encountering obstacles in gaining popularity, despite the rumored release of Apple’s headset later this year. These results imply that persuading potential customers could be a challenge for the VR industry.

However, Ramon T. Llamas, the research director for mobile devices and AR/VR at market intelligence provider IDC, disagreed with this conclusion.

“The AR/VR market has been taking slow but sure steps in recent years and is poised to take longer strides in the years to come,” he said in November.

Llamas also said that major companies’ newly released devices demonstrate significant improvements from previous versions, indicating a “maturing market ready to thrive for consumers and commercial users alike.”

VR/AR race

Despite the challenges, Meta invests heavily in VR and AR. Meta has been a major player in the VR industry since 2014, when it acquired headset maker Oculus VR. In 2021, the company changed its name from Facebook to Meta, signaling its commitment to virtual and augmented realities.

In 2019, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg established a dedicated AR/VR division called Reality Labs and invested $36 billion in the unit until September 2022.

The California-based company also acquired several firms specializing in VR technology, which led to legal problems with the Federal Trade Commission over market monopolization.

However, data show that Meta’s AR/VR ventures have not been profitable. Reality Labs has seen a constant increase in operating losses since 2019, with a $4.28 billion loss in the final quarter of 2022 and $13.72 billion over the entire year.

The company expects the losses to continue to rise in 2023, calling its AR/VR and metaverse bid a “long-term investment.”

Meta plans to launch a new VR headset called Quest 3 later this year. While its Quest 2 headset, introduced in 2020, has been the top-selling product in the market, its shipments decreased last year.

Apple has also joined the VR race with its XR headset, which will launch in June after almost eight years of development.

There is growing skepticism among Apple insiders regarding the success of the Cupertino-based firm’s mixed reality endeavor. Questions arise about the uncertain market, potential uses and its headset’s $3,000 price tag.


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