VR startups face ‘survival challenge’ until mobile platforms reach critical mass

Stuart_VRVirtual reality startups face a “challenge to survive” until mobile platforms that support virtual experiences reach critical mass, according to a panel of speakers at MIPTV.

However, the group said that the merging of VR and social media usage could have a transformative impact on the way the technology is perceived.

Speaking on the panel, Julian Price, chief marketing officer at vTime, said that VR companies face a challenge to survive until they are able to deliver sustainable revenues. The key will be the availability of mobile devices that can support VR experiences as a mass-market product, he said.

“Mass market [appeal] will be driven by the hardware,” said Price, adding the companies that will survive are those with proven products and those that “stay lean and agile” and don’t burn through too much cash.

He said companies may have to focus more on B2B commercial projects in the near term in order to get through to the mobile ‘promised land’ of virtual entertainment.

MIPTV session attendees also heard that ‘social VR’ – the integration of VR with social media – would add “a different flavour” to regular VR experiences, and would help boost interest.

VR outfit LiveLike will introduce a social VR experience at the Roland Garros tennis championship this summer, enabling viewers to experience the matches and interact with friends in real time.

Fabrice Lorenceau, co-founder and head of productions, LiveLike, said that the company carried out a small trial at Roland Garros last year, but this year will see a much wider deployment.

Lorenceau said that LiveLike had been surprised by the amount of time people spent in a virtual environment watching and interacting with live events. He said that VR sports can broaden out the availability of live events while delivering social connectivity.

Lorenceau added that his company had been able to deliver some social VR experiences with several thousand users. However, he said: “The industry is still in a maturing phase.”

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