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March 02, 2017


Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Wayne

And very good thoughts indeed...

We had this debate all those years ago with Raimo van der Klein when he first argued that AR will be the 8th mass media. I then said that AR is a 'media format' on mobile like a ringing tone or downloadable logo or game or app etc. And if AR was limited only to mobile as its platform, then it would only contribute to mobile's media portfolio much like how say 'music TV' music video is a native format for TV (later of course also deployed on internet and mobile). But you can't show music videos on radio or in a newspaper. And while technically you could show a video in a cinema, that is utterly commercially impractical to bring an audience in for 3 minutes for this song, then the next audience in for the next song haha...

But yeah. The argument that Raimo used to win me over (That AR is its own media channel and not only a format on mobile) is that AR can be enjoyed WITHOUT a mobile phone or device. Typically a Playstation Portable or a tablet today but also various AR goggles/glasses (like Google Glass was briefly) and AR can also be enjoyed via sound - again which does not require a mobile phone or 'mobile device' but can be enjoyed via another sound device. Also while AR often is triggered from the cellular network inputs like location (Pokemon Go, iButterfly, Layar) then there are tons of AR uses that are triggered with other ways such as a QR code or image (Ikea catalog for example).

To the degree 'which should we count it in' - that is a separate argument and also a valid one. If you show music on TV, is that counted as music industry (recording industry) or TV industry. A music video? Is that still in the recording industry or only TV industry. And are we double-counting that when we count the sizes of the global music recording industry and the global TV broadcast industry haha. Same will be true of AR, we can count at least most of AR early revenue directly as 'mobile content' revenues, and most of it will be delivered through an app, likely could be counted as 'app revenue' and many AR solutions will be games - could be counted as 'mobile games' and then again we have double/triple counting problems.

Here is where AR becomes its own mass media - if it has a mass audience (is not a niche market like say airplane seat TV screens). And if it has a unique delivery system and/or business system. So take TV and radio. Both are broadcast media. Both work technically on a similar way (old analog broadcast TV, to simplify things) but obviously TV transmits pictures. Now your home radio receiver will not display the TV signal and your TV receiver will not play the radio sounds (unless you had a special TV that included a radio tuner - those did exist but then the FM radio part was its own separate unit latched onto the device). So for AR... At the moment we are still too small by reach that it is not a mass market - but its getting awefully close. It will be a mass market by size by 2020 easily.

Then does it have its own delivery system/tech. Yeah. But you can use a mobile phone for many/most AR cases to consume it - but you can also use other gadgets. And does it have its own tech that is needed where the AR content is not visible on the 'non AR' mobile media - think of black-and-white TV vs color TV. The older b/w TVs could still play the newer color broadcasts but obviously they'd see it in b/w. But on AR, you won't see anything if you just point your phone at the AR content (Pokemon Go character) if you don't have the right equipment & app etc...

So going again with Pokemon Go. If you think of TV or say print - outdoor billboard advertising - you CAN have a QR code or bluetooth or whatever interactivity on your billboard and get consumers to interact with that media (use AR as an enhancement to existing media, ie a billboard poster). BUT what of the Pokemon who is floating over the lake? There is No OTHER media there! It is not enhancing any other media... but it can be discoverable by AR. And again, don't limit to cellular. Take the Audi driver's handbook. It is based on camera recognition. So it doesn't have any cellullar connectivity, the AR app recognizes the image - that is the engine - and then tells us how to change the oil. So this is going where no other media EXISTS which means... it has to be a unique media by itself. It cannot be 'only' an enhancement of an existing media, even if much of the current content is...

Howzat for a start?

All you other readers? Come join in. Lets talk AR...

Tomi Ahonen :-)


First a short introduction that I have been following up this blog silently for a six years, so you are providing good value Tomi. Thanks about it! (I have even read most of the bond stories..)

About AR. Previous medias have been also overlapping (movies, tv, internet, mobile, etc) and so will those that will come later. I think that it is a good point what Raimo had used there: is its own media channel if it can used without the limitations of the previous media. Like AR can be enjoyed WITHOUT a mobile phone. But alone it is not enough. Will it be the 7th mass media, or just 'feature enhancement' ? That will the future tell. If it will stay small, then I guess that we should call it rather as a enhancement, but now there are already strong signs that it will be huge. I will expect that AR will take up very much in cockpits (cars, planes), and glasses (what google already) demonstrated. There is so much information that can be used to enrich reality. e.g. Who is that person, what that will cost in next store, how this is used, etc.

For Tomi I would have also one question, that is bit related to this. I haven't noticed that you would have commented too much about those voice assistants that are coming up here and there (Alexa, Google Now, Siri, Cortana, Samsung Viv, and many others.. even opensource mycroft). They are very much related to mobiles, but also working alos. Where you put those, and what you think about their future ? Would they be 7th mass media and AR the 8th?


Great article, and useful info. If you need to get more tips about Augmented Reality, then browse to our blog @

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