Augmented reality will be virtual reality’s younger brother… that grows up to be bigger. Even in its relatively nascent stage, it shows heathy growth — including the classic leading indicator that is early stage funding.
We examined this principle Monday in light of relative funding levels in VR and AR. And the topic has gained greater relevance due to Apple’s AR embrace at WWDC this week, which follows similar from Facebook and Google.
Investment in the sector has been further quantified by Greenlight Insights’ Funding Database, which pegs AR’s 2016 funding at $1.07 billion. That’s 4X 2015’s total. It’s also $350 million more than VR’s VC funding (say that three times fast).
That’s the good news for AR. The sobering note — though not entirely damning of the sector — is that that spending is consolidated with a few top players seeing early traction, such as Magic Leap, ODG and Meta.
In fact, the top six players in the space comprise 90 percent ($1 billion) of the sector’s venture funding. And the ultimate outlier, Magic Leap, is responsible for most of that total ($793.5 million), due to its monster C round.
This isn’t entirely surprising, as embryonic tech sectors will cluster in this way. Industry life cycles then follow a trend towards fragmentation before settling back into consolidation in their maturity. AR will likely follow that path.
Regardless of its current stage, we’re bullish on AR’s growth and, again, potential to outpace VR. That’s not necessarily in terms of VC funding but eventual market value and aggregate industry revenue.
As we’ve examined, AR will have a greater share of consumption time and enterprise adoption. Unlike past tech revolutions, enterprise will precede consumer adoption, due to tangible cost savings in things like manufacturing.
As for further breakdowns in funding — again a leading indicator of sector value — Greenlight subdivides the data. Not surprisingly for early stage, hardware has gotten the lion’s share ($960 million), followed by software.