There is a saying, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Well, a slightly nicer but equally valid mantra is the path to success is paved with failure. That was even the title of a book. In the world of tech, this is particularly the case. For every success story, there are countless failures. Even current successful trends began as abject failures. Remember that Jobs was fired from Apple in the beginning. Even VR is not exempt from this. Keeping this in mind, here are some failed tech examples that VR manufacturers and developers should always bear in mind.
The Virtual Boy
The most apparent failure when talking about technology is the ill-fated Virtual Boy. Nintendo, always the innovator, where the first to experiment with VR for the home with this device launched in 1995. On paper the technology was impressive. In practice, it was a two-colour nightmare. It caused severe headaches and ended up only being launched in Japan and the US. The main lesson here is to make sure that your technology works before you ship it. This experience appears to have been learnt, because of the high-level of polish of many VR headsets nowadays, but this could also be because of the shift towards early-access models which allows for margins of error. Either way, don’t sell a sub-par product is what should be taken away from this.
The Amstrad Emailer
At the turn of the century, back when landlines were still a requirement, British company Amstrad launched the emailer. It made sense because it built upon an existing technology with a new one. There was no real problem with the technology. What ended up sinking the product was the wrong business model. Amstrad charged as you used the email service, which made push email very expensive. Also, it only allowed the use of emails or phone calls. Even worse, it supported advertising, which as a premium service often rankles consumers.
So what can be said here is that you need to make sure that your business model is up to scratch. This doesn’t necessarily mean always being the cheapest option, but being the most customer friendly. Unfortunately, UK retail chain GAME has not learnt this lesson at all, charging customers to use the PSVR demo. Treat your customers well, and they will always come back to you.
Another piece of technology that seemed genius on paper. Working off of the incredible success of Nintendo’s Wii, Microsoft seemed to be on the right track with the Kinect. All the fun of motion gaming without the risk of throwing something through your tv. Initially, it was received positively, even though it could sometimes be slightly temperamental. What sunk the Kinect was the second iteration for the Xbox One, which made it a requirement along with a list of very draconian requirements. Microsoft dialled those back after consumer backlash, but the damage had been done. Now, it’s nearly impossible to find games for Kinect. What can be learnt from this? Well, don’t alienate your consumers with stupid restrictions, to begin with, because that will always be a part of your image.
What can be learnt from this? Well, don’t alienate your consumers with stupid restrictions, to begin with, because that will always be a part of your image. Also, don’t make it a requirement for consumers to have. Instead, focus on delivering high-quality content that would make users want to purchase the product. Again, something that certain VR manufacturers seem to have learnt.
Microsoft’s first tablet
Microsoft’s tablet PC was truly something ahead of its time. It was an impressive piece of technology which didn’t do anything wrong, but it was once again a failure of marketing. Microsoft has always been business oriented and marketed the tablet as such. They also saw it as replacing PCs, which just wasn’t feasible. Tablets are good supplements, not real deals. Same applies for VR. It will never completely replace regular screens, at least not until health issues are addressed, but as optional additions, they would sell perfectly.