Augmented Reality will be the next mass media.
WHAT ARE THE 7 MASS MEDIA?
So AR will be a mass media. That will be the 8th mass media in chronological sequence. Print was first, then came Recordings, Cinema, Radio and TV. These 5 'analog' legacy media are well known and all classic mass media studies cover them well. Print is the basis of such giant industries as newspapers and magazines, books, posters and more obscure smaller printed media like playing cards and post cards (remember those?) etc. Recordings was first only the music recording industry but expanded later to include the videogaming industry which now towers over music by size. Cinema was said to kill print. It didn't. Radio was supposed to kill the record industry. It didn't. And TV was supposed to kill cinema, print and radio. It didn't. All five legacy mass media still survive today but when a new mass media came along, they adjusted.
The internet (or more accurately the WorldWide Web evolution of the internet) became the sixth mass media and it was the first inherent-threat mass media - the internet could destroy and cannibalize all of the previous media. Note this was never true before. For example you could not sell music through the traditional broadcast TV network. The internet has done a pretty good number on the old media too, in particular the music recordings industry that has been devastated by the internet. Still, the other media mostly adjusted and none are actually dead yet. The internet introduced several new elements to mass media such as sharing and interactivity.
Then we have the current champion, mobile. Mobile became a mass media when the first music downloads to mobile emerged out of Finland in 1998 (originally the basic downloadable ringing tones). Mobile media today is far larger than the recordings industry, radio, cinema and the internet. Mobile is now catching up to in size to the print and TV industries and will pass those soon. Mobile media is worth 407 Billion dollars annually (says the TomiAhonen Almanac 2017) and that is not 'smartphone apps'. Apps are only a small fraction of the mobile media revenues. Like the internet, mobile is an 'inherent threat' mass media because mobile can do what all previous SIX media could do - including now the internet. It means mobile can cannibalize all previous six. Note that this does not go the other way. The internet (PC based internet, legacy internet) cannot cannibalize mobile. We see this in the numbers too, even the USA, online PC/legacy internet revenues are flat or declining but mobile revenues are skyrocketing. Mobile as a media is nearly twice as big as the older internet as a media channel already.
AR IS 8TH MASS MEDIA
And that gets us to Augmented Reality. Note first, that VR Virtual Reality has nothing to do with AR. They are regularly mentioned together. VR needs the specal headgear like an Oculus viewer and you immerse yourself into that environment to take some virtual reality journey. It is good for gaming and some education and training purposes. VR is not and will not be a mass media by itself. It will be a MEDIA FORMAT for recordings. It will be a FORM of videogaming. VR will be a SUBSET of videogaming, which itself is a subset of the Recordings industry, the Second Mass Media channel. VR will never be as big as AR. And VR will not be universally used like a mass media would. VR may some day be common in many gaming households (time will tell) but AR is already today far larger and far more used and making tons of money. So don't mistake these two. Don't think because there is a letter R in both words, you should think of them as a group. They are not. VR is a niche play. AR is a mass market play. Its like Apple Watch vs a smartphone. VR will be for geeks mostly (initially). But AR is for the masses.
Augmented Reality? We all now know what it is thanks to Pokemon Go. I wrote earlier that Pokemon Go is the most successful game in history (for this point in time in its launch from zero) and has broken all records in downloads and revenues earned so far. Pokemon Go reached 500 million downloads in four months and made its first Billion dollars in only 7 months. It has now just announced its 650 millionth download and keeps growing. You may hear silly stories saying some users are tiring of the game - this happens in EVERY GAME. That doesn't take away from the fact that we are witnessing a more massive launch than Angry Birds. Pokemon Go is literally the most successful game launched in history. And it is obviously a game for mobile and it uses Augmented Reality so it is also an AR game.
While many discovered the magic of AR via Pokemon Go, that is not the start of the AR journey. This blog has been chronicling AR from literally its beginning via such pioneers as Layar and the iButterfly. My TEDx Talk in Hong Kong was about AR (has had over 30,000 viewings and many say its the must-see TED Talk about AR). I explained how AR will become a mass media. Now when you consider Pokemon Go and you watch that video, you can see the elements of Pokemon Go are all in that talk I gave years ago. I made a prediction back then that AR will become a mass media. That AR would be the 8th mass media. This is not my invention, Raimo Van der Klein actually came up with that point, I just adopted it from Raimo. And now for the year that just ended, we are having meaningful numbers we can start to report. We have enough data that we can report the annual revenues of AR. I added the AR chart to the 'Other Services' chapter and measured that AR today is worth 3 Billion dollars worldwide. Here is the chart from the Almanac (it was the most requested chart in my vote where I gave out 3 charts for free out of the Almanac)
Augmented Reality Revenues Globally $3 Billion USD in 2016
Source TomiAhonen Almanac 2017
This chart may be freely shared
Now if you want to read more about Pokemon Go and my recent analysis of its global phenomenon especially its metrics, go here.
If you want to read more about the first 7 mass media, read my book about it called.. Mobile as 7th of the Mass Media
And if you want to see all the data about mobile media today, including AR, then read the TomiAhonen Almanac 2017