Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it
That’s a motto I try to follow, as such, history is something that I like and I always factor in an analysis. There’s also another quote that I factor in an analysis:
Being early is the same as being wrong
The previous, I try to apply to augmented reality (AR), and to some extend to Mollejuo, because you don’t know if you’re being too early until you’ve failed and some years later, someone with the same idea succeeds. Let it be said, that an idea on itself is meaningless, what matters is the execution of the idea, but still.
Let’s go back for some examples of being too early
First we’ve got VR (virtual reality), a technology that has been touted to change the world since the 90’s, almost 20 years ago. It can be said it’s a technology with 20 years in the making. During that time many companies came trying to crack the future market and failed. Only recently Oculus VR has been successful in gain gin traction towards VR.
The second example (and perhaps the more visible one) is VOD (video on demand) as it was known before Netflix came into prominence. Also in the 90’s VOD was promoted by cable companies as a way to increase revenue and user experience. The idea was straightforward: instead of being attached to a broadcast at a fix time, allow the subscribers to watch their preferred TV shows when they wanted. For this the cable provider needed to install a big infrastructure. Time Warner Cable (TWC) was one of those cable providers, in the end VOD never took off as a popular option. Maybe it was the price charge to customers, maybe the technology was slow (still is, if you happen to have a cable provider which offers this service). Some years later one of TWC’s executives mentioned as the cause of the failure: being too early.
Many people like to hammer the disappearing of Blockbuster because they didn’t adapt to current times, because of that Netflix came and wiped the floor with Blockbuster. However, few people know or remember that Blockbuster did a partnership with Enron. The objective? Offer movies via the internet by delivering them on broadband (also VOD). This was early 2000s, AOL was hot via dial-up phone, broadband mass adoption was still years away. Due to corruption Enron disappeared, leaving Blockbuster alone on their venture. Still Blockbuster should have continue. Woulda? Shoulda?
The point is Blockbuster tried to move things forward, but it was too early for that. For its side, Netflix had to wait almost a decade for the broadband to become ubiquitous so their name made sense (Netflix was initially a sold by mail DVD store). Even so, Blockbuster tried to buy Netflix, but the deal never materialized.
The same happened with music. Right after Napster was forced to shutdown by the record companies, there were many services that were born to stream music online by charging the subscriber a monthly fee. Those services never took off. Today we know those services reincarnations as Pandora, Spotify, Rdio, etc.
And so on and so forth …
As you can see, the world’s full of ideas trying to accomplish something, failing, only for some years later, other people doing it again (almost the same idea) and succeeding!
Which brings us to AR. This field is healthy and being heavily adopted everywhere, some phone manufacturers are fully behind it. Many companies doing AR are thriving, however critical mass has not been reached yet. Since nobody knows the future, we don’t know when that will (if ever) happens. That’s what makes it so exciting and scary at the same time. Are we (current AR community) being the “too early” guys? Are we the ones that hit the target time?
Only time will tell! 🙂