Just a few months ago members of the technorati elite politburo declared Apple’s innovation dead in the water as every tech company worth writing about was ahead on machine learning, ahead on virtual reality, and ahead on augmented reality. Apple was doomed.
That was then and this is now and within a few short months Apple’s ARKit– and its ability to bring augmented reality to a few hundred million iPhone and iPad customers almost overnight– seems to have changed the landscape.
What good is augmented reality other than helping to make a fortune for the folks running Pokemon Go? That, my friends, is the $64-million dollar question (I adjusted for inflation since The $64,000 Question).
There is an ongoing assumption that Apple’s ARKit and a few hundred million iPhones and iPads all running augmented reality applications will sweep the world into a new direction. Maybe. Maybe not. But I see plenty of Apple Watch in ARKit and AR apps.
What is the killer app for Apple Watch?
Telling time? Hardly. Browsing the web? Checking email? Showing off photos? Playing games? Watching movies or reading the news? No. Other than telling the time, there’s no killer app for Apple Watch. Lotus 1-2-3 and WordStar were killer apps for the nascent PC industry back in the day and businesses scooped them up. Microsoft’s Office only continued the killer app syndrome. Along came email and browsers, both killer apps that everyone needed and used.
What’s the killer app for iPhone? Camera? Cell phone? The use case varies depending upon who uses the iPhone. Ditto for iPad. Mac, too.
Killer apps are dead.
We no longer have a need for a specific app to justify the purchase of an iPhone, iPad, or Mac. Their respective platforms are packed already, right out of the box, with almost everything anyone could need or use to have a more productive and entertaining life (internet connection required).
If killer apps are dead, and they are, then what do we have today? We have what I call killer platforms that reside within a killer ecosystem. Augmented reality is yet another major addition to the platform, but AR does not have a killer function. You’ll see AR show up in games and maps and social apps, and over time app developers will park AR into more functionality because the iPhone platform is widely diverse.
Apple’s problem is the same as it was with the original iPhone and with Apple Watch. The use case scenario, or what is called value proposition, simply is too broad, too wide, too diverse to be a killer function because AR gets absorbed into Apple’s platform collective.
We might see AR really take off when Apple Glasses hit the streets in a year or two or three, but by then app developers will have launched a gazillion and a half augmented reality apps which functionality we have yet to anticipate, and that will set the stage for Apple’s move into wearable AR.