AR: Who’s using it? When? and How?

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Executive Summary

How do consumers feel about mobile AR? Who’s using it? How often? And what do they want to see next? Perhaps more importantly, what are non-users’ reasons for disinterest? And how can app developers and anyone else building mobile AR apps optimize product strategies accordingly?

These are the questions we set out to answer. Working closely with Thrive Analytics, ARtillery Intelligence wrote questions to be presented to more than 1,000 U.S. adults in Thrive’s established consumer survey engine. The results are in and we’ve analyzed the takeaways in a narrative report.

This follows several months of ARtillery Intelligence Briefings that examine social, gaming and commerce-driven AR. Now, a deeper view into real consumer usage and attitudes validates those narratives while providing new dimension on mobile AR strategies and opportunity spotting.

So what did we find out? At a high level, mobile AR usage is up to 26 percent of U.S. adults. Many of these users experience mobile AR through apps, such as those built on ARkit and ARCore. But there’s faster growth for lower-friction experiences such as “AR-as-a-feature” and web AR.

Mobile AR users also appear active and engaged across the board, with just under half of users reporting that they engage at least weekly. The top app category is gaming, which we attribute to Pokémon Go’s popularity. But other categories such as social AR and visual search are growing faster. Mobile AR users also indicated high levels of satisfaction with the experience.

But beyond these and a few other positive signals, there are some negative signs and areas for improvement. For example, non-mobile AR users report low likelihood of adopting, and an explicit lack of interest.

This disparity between current-user satisfaction and non-user disinterest continues to underscore a key challenge for AR: you have to experience it to really get it. But there’s little drive for users to get that first taste without first seeing the benefits. This boils down to a classic “chicken & egg” dilemma that represents a core marketing challenge for AR.

Put another way, AR’s highly visual and immersive format is a double-edged sword. It can create strong affinities and high engagement levels. But the visceral nature of its experience can’t be communicated to prospective users with traditional marketing such as ad copy or even video.

The same chicken & egg challenge was uncovered in our corresponding VR report last month . This makes it a common challenge with immersive tech, though AR is relatively advantaged by mobile ubiquity. Still, it will take time and acclimation before AR reaches a more meaningful share of the population.

Meanwhile, there are strategies to accelerate that process, and to build AR apps that align with consumers’ current standards. In the coming pages, we’ll examine those strategies and unpack the full set of survey results. This is meant to empower readers with a greater knowledge position.

Methodology

ARtillery Intelligence has partnered with Thrive Analytics by writing the questions for the Virtual Reality Monitor consumer survey. These questions were fielded to more than 1000 U.S. Adults. ARtillery Intelligence wrote this report, containing its insights and viewpoints on the survey results.

For market sizing and analysis, ARtillery Intelligence follows disciplined best practices, developed and reinforced through its principles’ 15 years in research and intelligence in the tech sector. This includes the past 4.5 years covering AR & VR exclusively, as seen in research reports and daily reporting.

Thrive Analytics likewise follows best practices in consumer research, developed over its long tenure as a consumer research firm. More details about the survey sample (demographics, etc.) can be seen in this report’s introduction and more on ARtillery Intelligence market-sizing research and methodologies can be read here.

Disclosure & Ethics Statement

ARtillery Intelligence has no financial stake in the companies mentioned in this report, nor received payment for its production. With respect to market sizing, ARtillery Intelligence remains independent of players and practitioners in the sectors it covers, thus mitigating bias in industry revenue calculations and projections. Disclosure and ethics policy can be seen in full here.

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