A new computing cycle, the Immersive Web, is on its way. If you have access to a Virtual Reality headset like a HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Samsung GearVR or Daydream, you can get an early glimpse of the future today.
We are moving from flat, 2D websites — gone will be infinite scroll bars and in its place will be navigable spaces and hyperlinked portals with new experience building blocks like sound + lighting, 3D environments with depth and a default social, collaboration layer.
In the same way we went from command line DOS interfaces to GUI interfaces, the Immersive Web will usher in a new wave of innovation.
For me, that’s an exciting prospect and one which I would argue is overdue. The last computing cycle, mobile, has been wonderful in bringing computing to the masses however, from a development perspective, its ushered in a multitude of challenges for individuals and companies to grow and scale.
For anyone that’s built and tried to distribute an application on iOS or recently has used Unity to build a Virtual or Augmented Reality app, you quickly see the many challenges of app based distribution.
On iOS and Android, there are heavy taxes to participate in the stores, generally 30% of your revenue, and many restrictions to when and what you can publish. Beyond those challenges, you will find the ‘discovery’ problem. How does someone find your application amongst the many many others? How do you get on the top categories list or in New and Noteworthy on iOS?
One way the majority of top grossing mobile applications stay on these top lists –> buying downloads and advertising! If you want to maintain your position, you have to spend and spend heavy. It becomes an important part of your business model..
For the burgeoning Virtual Reality industry, we are seeing many of these unfortunate friction points emerge again via app stores.
Applications are siloed, with content that doesn’t reach search engines plus an inability to deep link within. And similar to iOS and Android, once you build your application, will that application codebase work across the Rift, Vive, PSVR, iOS, Android and all the other, new platforms on the way? Also, as expected, the revenue tax is generally there as well.
The Immersive Web and URLs offer an alternative.
With the emergence of WebVR, WebAR, much of the functionality that you would find via a development platform like Unity is being created, developed. New WebVR standards are being set and supported by the major browsers.
For the development community, for up and coming companies in the space, this is an exciting prospect. The Immersive Web offers access to reach billions of people via mobile or desktop web browser, sans app store tax.
I believe — and, the more developers, designers, entrepreneurs that believe — that build, innovate and show the way, the closer we will be to our new reality.
In an industry where growth and revenue are paramount, the Immersive Web offers an alternative to our current app store dominated computing world. It offers a true opportunity for scale without revenue gatekeepers, via URLs, and simply put, that’s great.
Article by: Michael Hoydich