Apple is almost certainly planning to enter the augmented reality (AR) market, and now is a good time. Between 2008 and 2015, augmented reality (AR) was a technology gimmick looking for a market.
Innovators struggled with technical limitations, hype for smart glasses, and weak use cases. However, starting in mid-2015, the market began a period of recalibration. For mobile AR, the most significant developments since 2015 have been solid thinking about how to leverage AR to produce meaningful end user benefits, the advancement of computer vision, and the integration of artificial intelligence (AI).
According to a new report from Tractica, the expanding use cases for mobile AR will lead to growth from 342.8 million unique monthly active users (MAUs) globally in 2016 to nearly 1.9 billion MAUs by 2022. During this period, the market intelligence firm forecasts that worldwide mobile AR revenue will rise from $749.0 million to $18.5 billion annually, according to the market research group.
“While it was once imagined that mobile AR, using smartphones and tablets, would be the strict purview of consumer use cases, the slow development of smart glasses married with the practicality and the ubiquity of mobile devices has opened legitimate, sustainable markets for enterprise use cases as well,” says principal analyst Mark Beccue.
Beccue adds that, as the market continues to develop through the course of 2017, AR will start to become an increasingly embedded mobile capability through software development kits (SDKs) and other platformization strategies, and AR will live within social media platforms, e-commerce apps, maps, and business applications.
“Mobile AR will power one of the next great user interface applications – visual search – and will, therefore, play a central role in determining the future success of internet giants,” Beccue says.
Tractica’s report provides global market forecasts from 2014 to 2022 for active users, embedded capability/downloads, and revenue for mobile AR. This data is segmented by five major world regions, six consumer use cases (social media, gaming and entertainment, e-commerce, mapping/indoor navigation, visual search, and toys) and four enterprise use cases (education, plant maintenance, field service, and B2B sales tools).