In mid-October, Nokia issued a press release from its headquarters in Finland, announcing a refocusing of its business, with a growing emphasis on digital health. Read on a few paragraphs, though, and you find this statement:
In digital media, the slower-than-expected development of the VR market means that Nokia Technologies plans to reduce investments and focus more on technology licensing opportunities. The unit aims to halt development of further versions of the OZO VR camera and hardware, while maintaining commitments to existing customers.
The Ozo was seen as a very popular camera, perhaps the flagship of the new push into 360 shooting. A stop on further development comes as something of a surprise, given the continuing interest from other vendors.
Samsung, for instance, has introduced the 360 Round, a 17 lens camera (eight pairs plus one looking up), in a 205mm diameter case. It also includes six microphones for surround sound. Price is predicted to be $10.500 (the online Nokia store still offers the Ozo at 23,500 euros or more than two and a half times the price).
IBC saw plenty of VR demonstrations. So is it happening or not?
I am sure I have written in these pages before about the Gartner hype cycle, the plot of technological development which new concepts go through, as proposed by the market analysis giant. The spark of innovation leads in a rapid rise to a peak of inflated expectations, which is equally rapidly followed by the trough of disillusionment as reality proves to be much less exciting than promise.
A cooler, more detached look at the prospects may lead to a slope of enlightenment oh, thats what its for and a plateau of productivity. What all new ideas have is the initial meteoric rise and equally rapid plummet to the trough of disillusionment. How far the slope of enlightenment rises is the critical part of the process: is this idea going to be a winner or not?
My view without the might of Gartner behind the theory is that for a new idea to take off there needs to be three things in place. There needs an enabler: it must be technically possible. It needs a driver: people must want it (or be convinced they want it). And there must be a business case: someone, somewhere, is going to have to pay for it.
If we cast our minds back just a few short years, we will remember that if a stand at IBC or NAB did not give you a pair of glasses to look at their presentations, then you just walked on by. 3D was the next big thing.
Except that it did not work out that way. The peak of inflated expectations was huge, but it never really recovered from the trough of disillusionment. In my mind, that was because there was an enabler 3D television could be done but no driver. Consumers did not want it, because they did not want to black out their living rooms and watch television wearing dorky glasses.
The business case was skewed too. Consumer electronics manufacturers loved the idea because it could push television set prices back up while costing little more than an extra $5 chip and a free pair of glasses (extra pairs at a substantial after-market price). But for broadcasters it was a big investment for very little, if any, return.