The feeling at the Mobile World Congress industry show in Barcelona is that it is going to be a tough year for the makers of smartphones, tablets and other connected devices.
The developed world is reaching saturation point while in key emerging markets consumers have less money to spend.
So the search is on for the next big thing that will excite buyers and boost profits.
Carolina Milanesi is Chief of Research, with Kantar Worldpanel ComTech and her job includes spotting trends. She told euronews: “Everyone has a smart phone now. So the sellers need to try to figure out what kind of new devices will get consumers reaching for their wallets and spending their money.”
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is one of those betting that virtual reality and augmented reality are going to take off in a wide range of businesses, beyond video games, giving people an enhanced experience that they would be prepared to pay for.
Zuckerberg, who has teamed up with Samsung to drive 360 degree video content on his site, said: “Video is already some of the most engaging content that you’ll see online; there are already every day more than 100 million hours of video content watched on Facebook. But 360 degree videos are even more immersive, because you aren’t just watching passively, you feel as if you’re actually there, you’re actually surfing in Tahiti or flying with the Blue Angels or exploring the surface of Mars.”
Milanesi watched Zuckerberg’s presentation to delegates and said: “He made the point that it’s not just for gaming, not for games or things like GoPro where you’re bungee jumping or parachuting. Virtual reality can be more and more a link with your family. He talked about being able to record his daughter’s first steps using a 360 degree camera.”
VR goggles are already in use for many things, including virtual tours of property for sale and as a medical tool for doctors.
A Goldman Sachs research report predicted that within the next 10 years it could become a market worth over 70 billion euros annually.