Apple CEO Tim Cook has been unreserved in his attacks on Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse strategy. Yet, far from dismissing the inevitable transition away from Web 2.0 technologies, he, alongside other leading tech figures like Snap CEO Evan Spiegel, is backing augmented reality (AR), not virtual reality (VR), as the winning strategy.
Of course, there are some discussions about the motives for such claims — Apple has an AR headset in the pipeline, and Snap’s success is built on AR-powered image editing — but AR has already proven to be a game-changer for many companies.
This article will showcase the latest research and statistics that build a case for AR technologies and their potential impact on consumer behavior on Metaverse platforms.
One of the most significant signals that AR could overtake VR, at least in the short term, in the race to Metaverse dominance is the rate of adoption. By the close of 2021, more than 1.5 billion users aged between 13-69 were frequent AR consumers. The research conducted by Deloitte Digital for Snap predicts that by 2025, this figure will rise to 4.3 billion —75% of the global population.
These are bold claims, but researchers plotted the rise alongside the trajectory of smartphone adoption between 2000-2003. During this period, various new applications, like games and camera functions, saw the technology accelerate in popularity.
Ultimately, mass adoption like this leads to a degree of familiarity whereby users that try out Metaverse platforms could be less nervous about the experience. AR could help normalize digital transactions, DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) governance, virtual interactions, and many other elements that make the Metaverse appear complicated.
From a B2C (business-to-consumer) perspective, the same Snap study suggests that AR’s conversion rates are 94% higher because users can feel more connected to brands. And this isn’t the only research that has come to a similar conclusion.
Data from DFS, the largest U.K. furniture seller, revealed that the use of client-facing AR and 3D rendering tools had equated to a 112% conversion increase. Even as far back as 2019, Google found that 66% of consumers were interested in using AR tools to help with purchasing decisions.
Companies are entering the Metaverse to convert more customers through greater brand engagement. These statistics show that companies could achieve the level of engagement required through partial immersion, perhaps negating the need for a full VR experience.
The cost of Metaverse technologies is a common barrier to entry for many consumers. While development costs for AR vs. VR applications are somewhat negligible, both require a significant output; statistics show that AR is a more affordable solution for consumers.
Fundamentally, consumer costs are slashed because AR applications run on existing technologies like smartphones and tablets. According to Pew Research, in the U.S. alone, 85% of people own a smartphone, compared to just 35% in 2011. Conversely, the average price for a mid-range VR headset is $420.
While the Metaverse is in its infancy and rival organizations will undoubtedly push for the dominance of technologies they are producing, there is a strong case for AR.
Today, it’s impossible to know whether AR will outpace VR and become the go-to means for accessing and engaging in the Metaverse. However, one thing is certain. Organizations must embrace and experiment with AR applications to develop a rounded strategy for the next wave of the internet.