Over 2.5bn augmented reality apps by 2017
A new report from Juniper Research finds that by 2017, over 2.5 billion mobile augmented reality (AR) apps will be downloaded to smartphones and tablets per annum.
This represents 3.5 times the number of downloads achieved by Angry Birds in 2011.
AR apps combine reality with a digital overlay allowing, for instance, consumers to virtually try on glasses or items of clothing using their mobile phone.
Usage of AR in the retail area can enable retailers to bring an internet-like experience into their stores, allowing consumers to see more information on a product simply by pointing their camera at it.
However, this is only possible if AR apps can recognise large numbers of items as retailers will typically have thousands or even tens of thousands of items in stock. With image-recognition transferred to the cloud, the number of images that can be identified will increase dramatically enabling retail brands to develop apps for use in-store.
Usage by entertainment brands will also drive usage by driving consumers to download AR apps and try them out with products that they are familiar with.
Junmiper says that while tech-aware consumers may already know what mobile augmented reality is, and what can be done with it, the average consumer does not. Without an increase in consumer awareness, it will be difficult for the mobile augmented reality industry to reach critical mass and without critical mass, many AR apps will not be able to find the size of audience they need to break even and advertisers may find that they are unable to reach their target demographic.
Report author Charlotte Miller notes: ‘Familiarising the average consumer with the concept of AR and what it can do for them can only come from its use in everyday situations. Adding AR to a magazine and encouraging readers to download and try it is a great way of educating consumers about what AR can offer them but we won’t see an explosion in user numbers until major retail brands embrace and adopt AR in their own apps.’
The report expects purchases made using AR apps, such as physical goods purchased after accessing AR advertising content, to become a key revenue stream for the mobile AR industry.
It notes there will be an increasing number of playsets, such as those produced by WowWee, which combine physical toys with a game on a smartphone or tablet.