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Apple’s Moment Today, India’s Moment Tomorrow?

Pre-WWDC drone shots unveil Apple Park's headset demo area and enhanced shaded viewing for keynote (9TO5Mac)
Pre-WWDC drone shots unveil Apple Park's headset demo area and enhanced shaded viewing for keynote (9TO5Mac)

Summary

  • Over the years, Indian professionals have honed their expertise in creating visually stunning and immersive experiences for global clients.

Virtual reality (VR) has captured the imagination of millions in recent years, and with Meta's recent announcement of the Quest 3 headset and Apple's highly anticipated announcement later today, the industry is on the cusp of a potential inflection point.

While critics have questioned VR's potential, this upcoming development could mark a major turning point for the industry, much like the paradigm shift witnessed 14 years ago in computing interfaces. VR has the potential to catalyze incredible progress in various sectors, including gaming, education, skills training, and enterprise collaboration.

While VR is not a new technology, its recent surge in popularity is evident. For the past two years, Oculus has been the number one app on the US app stores during Christmas, indicating its appeal as a sought-after gift. Moreover, VR has achieved critical mass of early adoption as a platform, with over 19 million Oculus devices sold and the promise of many more users to come. This tipping point signals an enthusiastic shift for developers to build for this emerging platform. 

From the point and click interface of the original mac, the click wheel on the iPod, the touchscreen on the iPhone and the digital crown on the Apple watch, Apple’s entry into a new category is often accompanied by a step change in human -computer interaction in the category that helps to populairse it.  This time too there is much speculation that Apple might choose to ditch controllers that VR headsets have relied on thus far,  which opens up a much wider range of possibilities for mixed reality. 

However, there are still impediments to widespread VR adoption. Many users experience motion sickness when using headsets, and issues like bandwidth limitations, chromatic aberration, and display quality continue to challenge the content consumption experience. The mass adoption of VR will require changes across the entire spectrum, from camera resolution and storage requirements for content creation to processing power, compression algorithms, bandwidth capabilities, and even display technologies. These challenges present an opportunity for innovation and growth, particularly for India.

India has steadily moved up the value chain at every major paradigm shifts in computing platforms. When Windows 95 was introduced, many would recall that there were virtually no  Indian-made applications to open when one clicked the start button. However, the advent of the internet led to the emergence of portals like Rediff and Sify, showcasing India's capability to adapt and create relevant content.

Similarly, with the rise of smartphones, a plethora of Indian apps and games captured the imagination of domestic users. Now, with the paradigm shift to VR, perhaps the time has come for India to establish itself as a global player by building popular consumer applications for the world - from India. 

Several factors align in India's favor this time around. The country boasts a mature entrepreneurship and venture capital ecosystem, which has significantly evolved since the launch of the iPhone in 2009. Additionally, India has a thriving $1.3 billion animation industry, and its outsourcing sector has cultivated a robust talent pool in 3D design and animation. Over the years, Indian professionals have honed their expertise in creating visually stunning and immersive experiences for global clients.

This existing talent base gives India a competitive advantage in the VR space. With the necessary skills and experience, Indian professionals can contribute to the creation of high-quality VR content that meets international standards and demands.

In conclusion, VR is poised to revolutionize industries, and India has a unique opportunity to make its mark in this rapidly evolving space. By leveraging its mature entrepreneurship ecosystem, thriving animation industry, and talented professionals in 3D design and development, India can position itself as a global leader in the creation of immersive VR experiences. The time has come for India to embrace this paradigm shift and realise the full potential of it technology capability. It's time to be at the front end of the value chain.

Joseph Sebastian is associate vice president at Blume Ventures.

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