In the last ten years the world has changed considerably – and naturally so, as change is the centre of everything. Over the past decade technological innovation in consumer products has acted as the sole driver of change, not only in the way we work but the way we communicate as human beings: emoticons act as a substitute for human expression, liking a friends picture on Facebook is our way of showing that we acknowledge their existence (as opposed to actually talking to them), and Face Timing saves actual physical interaction between one another.
It’s a cynical perception of modern interaction but it’s a difficult one to shake when the average person on the street prefers the glow of their smartphone screen, as opposed to appreciating the world around them… or merely having common sense and paying attention to others and the real-world dangers of busy, bustling streets. But the technological changes of the last decade have brought with them an inevitability, that in order to remain relevant in the modern world, the possession of a smart-phone is just the start – for those wishing that the tech world would stop dictating how we live our lives, you’re in for a disappointing future.
As the smartphone market’s rapid and continuous growth begins to ease for the first time since the release of the iPhone in 2007, it signals a familiar hunger for innovation in the consumer market – and with innovation comes change.
“For those wishing that the tech world would stop dictating how we live our lives, you’re in for a disappointing future.”
Over the last few months Apple has been the target of a critical outlet derived from the company’s questionable self-description as a ‘world-leader’ in product innovation. In April, Apple reported a nearly 13% drop in iPhone sales for the first quarter of 2016, the first decline in revenue the company has experienced in almost a decade. Countless articles regarding Apple’s ability to innovate ensued, but what these critiques failed to take into consideration is that the smartphone market as a whole has seen a decrease in sales and thus consumer interest. What was once a beacon of innovation and interest, has now become a market that is slowly starting to realise its own limitations. Regardless of this decline in market growth, Samsung still view the smartphone as a beacon of consumer-product innovation – the slogan of the marketing campaign for their most recent flagship product, the Galaxy S7/S7 Edge, urges consumers to ‘rethink what a phone can do’. This smartphone campaign, for the first time, adopted a double-focus, pulling attention towards a virtual reality headset.
In September 2014, Samsung announced its first venture into virtual reality: the Gear VR headset, a counterpart accessory to the Galaxy S7/S7 Edge. The headset, powered by and developed with VR specialists Oculus, marks virtual realities first mature growth spurt, as the the market transitions from the experimental phase and into the mainstream. This growth is almost certainly going to continue, as Sony plans to release their own Oculus-powered VR headset, titled Playstation VR, in October 2016, signalling one of the biggest steps forward in the evolution of gaming.
“The iPhone changed the way we do things in our-day-to-day lives but VR is posing that we change life itself…”
Where smartphones are about innovation in communication, human interaction, entertainment distribution and (most importantly) efficiency in our day-to-day lives, virtual reality at this point in time, appears to be about innovation through entertainment and communication. The iPhone changed the way we do things in our-day-to-day lives but VR is positing that we change life itself – the platform has proven its ability to create immersive experiences through gaming and even filmmaking, as well as other more surprising areas. For example, the British pop-electronic group Years & Years held the first VR gig for Samsung Galaxy Gear users earlier this year, as part of the company’s VR campaign. It may take some time for the notion of VR to catch-on with the masses but for the moment the platform is intent on proving not only its power and worth, but also that it’s the future. When you think about the significance of the smart-phone in our day-to-day lives ten years ago in comparison to its importance today, one can only think the takeover of VR in the next ten years is an inevitable notion – and if you recall the picture of a beaming Mark Zuckerberg strolling down an isle in-between endless rows of a conference audience wearing Oculus Rift VR headsets, that inevitable notion suddenly transforms into a very rational fear of the future.