Wan Haoji, founding partner of private equity investment institute Matrix Partners China, spoke at the Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality (VR/AR) Summit at the Global Technology Innovation Conference (GTIC) on Saturday in Beijing, pointing out that the VR industry in China is still in its early stages and is extremely lacking in content.
He used the word “infancy” to describe the industry and said that it will have steady growth rather than break out soon. In his eyes, this stage in China’s VR industry is similar to the smartphone industry in 2006–2007. He thinks the commercialization of AR will be an even longer process.
Wan spoke about the entire VR/AR industry chain including hardware, content, platforms, distribution, developer services, content producer services and other vertical industry solutions.
“The hardware investment outlet has passed because of most VR hardware manufacturers completing the majority of their financing. There is little chance a new unicorn will appear in the hardware area, but it is still a good base for development in other areas,” Wan said.
His opinions were echoed by other guest speakers. Huang Dong, CTO of Mango TV, said the whole VR/AR industry chain tends to be more complete once there is investment in and development of VR content and software.
However, Huang added there are still some bottlenecks due to a shortage of VR/AR content. As one of the most popular broadcasters in China, Mango TV will focus more on content production. For example, their popular TV show I am a singer & Super Girls will unveil a VR version in the future.
According to senior vice president of Youku Tudou, Li Jie, only 10% of venture capital related to VR projects is used for VR content production in China, which does not satisfy the demand of the market. Youku Tudou will take advantage of its VR video coding, immersive 3D cinema-like experience and eye tracking technology to develop VR/AR content and provide better experience for users.
Tech giant LeEco, with its wide video content distribution network and smartphone manufacturing ability, aims to build a VR ecosystem. Li Qiang, the vice president of LeEco’s new technology research and development department, said VR content is an important part of the ecosystem. LeEco will pay more attention to video production, especially live video streaming for games, conferences, shows and even all kinds of extreme sports. In the meantime, the company will also carry out cooperation with foreign game developers to amass yet more content.
Liu Luyuan, CEO of NetDragon Websoft Inc., a leading Chinese developer in the gaming and wireless industry, said the company will launch a VR content editor in the future. He added that the VR content editor will provide VR enthusiasts with lots of convenient editing functions which will enable them to make their own VR products.
According to a prediction from Goldman Sachs, in 2025, revenue from the global VR sector may reach USD 80 billion, out of which USD 45 billion could come from hardware sales, with the rest coming from content and other related fields.
(Top photo from AllChinaTech)