Many virtual and augmented reality software startups, device makers and online services are positioning themselves to capitalize on the AR/VR market if and when it finally reaches critical mass. (GeekWire Photo / Todd Bishop)
Tim Harader has seen this story before.
When the digital media entrepreneur arrived in Seattle two decades ago, he was recruited by Microsoft to manage its new webcasts. At the time, internet video was hot, at least inside the tech industry. Companies like Microsoft and RealNetworks spent millions trying to fill the content pipeline for this new medium. But the quality wasn’t quite good enough, and there wasn’t a critical mass of broadband internet penetration.
These days, Harader is running Portal VR, a virtual reality arcade that he and his wife, Page Harader, opened last year in Seattle. As he sits on a couch inside the facility and watches excited customers strap on headsets and transport to different worlds, Harader draws connections between virtual and augmented reality in 2018 and what happened with internet video in the late ’90s.
“There was a ton of hype and a ton of money being invested in it, yet nobody was watching. Ultimately, it was not a sustainable business for content creators,” Harader explained. “It’s like VR for developers today — you’ve got quite a bit of content out there, but you don’t have that mass penetration of headsets that allows developers to make their money back.”
Tim Harader (right) inside Portal VR, the virtual reality arcade he opened last year with his wife in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood. (GeekWire photo / Taylor Soper)
It took longer than many people expected, but today, digital video consumption is through the roof in many parts of the world, thanks to the proliferation of smartphones and wireless connectivity.
Does the same fate await the VR and AR world …read more