A Wait and See Attitude with VR Won't Cut It

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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A Wait and See Attitude with VR Won't Cut It

It's tempting, when a new technology emerges, to be aloof and let cooler heads prevail. Why go plunging off after the latest possible fad only to discover that it is indeed just another fad, the kind of which has been in play for years? The problem with that notion, of course, is that it cedes first-mover advantage to other firms, and also delivers other unpleasant side effects.

The initial reports suggest that virtual reality--one of the biggest new potential fads around--won't really be a profitable market until 2017 and beyond, thanks to a combination of high prices and few software items available. Those numbers are changing as more early adopters get into the field, but it's still fairly slim. This isn't a time to proceed judiciously, according to word from some big names like Nvidia's Zvi Greenstein, Amazon's Hao Chen, and others. Rather, this is the time to start learning all about VR, and getting new products into testing for release when the profit iron might be at its hottest in 2017.

Essentially, given that no one really understands the market as yet, it's a safe bet that many companies will fail on at least some level in VR development. Failure, however, often brings with it lessons that can yield greater value later, and that's worth keeping in mind. Plus, as noted earlier, those who wait and see are likely to wait and see competitors leaping out in front of them, leaving the rest of the pack behind to play catchup down the line.

Thus, we get an idea of how important some companies think the first-mover advantage is. It's not just a way to get an edge on competitors, but also a way to get a better handle on the market as a whole, learning from mistakes to deliver a great new product later on. Those who waited, meanwhile, will start their learning process while those who started early have terrific commercial products. When that happens, the only way to catch up will be to invest huge pots of money to make up for the lag.

There's an old saying: There are three ways to have a product--Fast, cheap, and good. At any time, you may have any two. Thus, if you want it cheap and fast, it won't be good. If you want it cheap and good, it won't be fast. And if you want it fast and good, it won't be cheap. The more forward-thinking companies are focusing on good and cheap, and starting now to allow for the lack of fast. Those who follow will have to sacrifice cheap instead to get back the time lost playing wait and see.

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