Mixed Mobile Reality Delivers Big Profits To Social Platforms

Upon its debut in 2017, Snapchat’s dancing hot dog augmented-reality camera lens quickly achieved “meme status.” During its brief existence, Snapchat users worldwide couldn’t resist superimposing the cute virtual character over random real-work environments.

Popular as it was, however, the dancing hot dog didn’t seem like the most profitable opportunity for Snap Inc. and other platforms experimenting with mobile mixed reality.

Yet, just two years later, using mobile gadgets to overlay interactive images and videos onto real world environments has ballooned into an $8 billion business, according to Juniper Research.

More remarkable, the research firm now expects this emerging market to exceed $43 billion by 2024.

By then, Sam Barker, a senior analyst at Juniper, expects social-media applications to account for 40% of all consumer mixed reality revenue.

“Third-party content delivered on these apps has been key to their success, therefore investment in content development frameworks will increase their app’s content library with minimal investment,” Barker predicts.

Social platforms like Snapchat and Facebook won’t have to do much to reap the rewards of mobile mixed reality’s growing popularity.

As for what’s driving this market, Juniper identifies the growth of 5G networks and “edge computing” -- or decentralized data processing -- as two key emerging technologies accelerating the development of mixed reality services.

As such, Juniper is urging smart glasses vendors to incorporate hardware to enable 5G and edge computing capabilities. By increasing the end users’ capabilities, the enhanced content and services enabled by these technologies will usher in a second wave of smart glasses adoption, Juniper estimates.

Additionally, the researcher believes leveraging cloud computing capabilities to deliver high-value mixed reality content is crucial to the success of the market. Migrating processing power to the cloud will enable device vendors to reduce device sizes and minimize the social cost of public device use.

Yet, mobile apps will continue to dominate the market, Juniper expects. In fact, it predicts 75% of consumer mixed reality will be attributable to smartphone apps by 2024.

That’s thanks to the market’s immediate base of nearly 6 billion smartphone users, combined with established content distribution in the form of app stores.

As for specific app categories, mobile games and multimedia apps will benefit most -- accounting for 67% of all smart-glasses apps by 2024, Juniper predicts.
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