Without giving it much thought. Without a Google search, or texting a friend. Without anything that resembles a moment of consideration. Tell me; what’s a bigger product than Apple’s iPhone?
Fire? The wheel? Electricity? The automobile?
Fair enough, but those are not branded products. Suffering at the hands of the same question, and with limited time to consider, I would have gone with McDonald’s hamburgers. I read somewhere that the hamburger chain topped 300-billion burgers sold since inception back before I was born, vs. the 1-billion or so iPhones sold in the past decade. Of course, a burger is much less expensive than an iPhone, so there’s that.
What would you make of a technology article headline which says a new Apple product could be bigger than the iPhone?
In this case Joe McGauley thinks augmented reality (AR) could be bigger than the iPhone. The only problem there is AR is a technology that will find its way embedded into future products, while the iPhone is a real product you can buy and use, and ostensibly, a product which has AR now, and will have more in the future.
My personal opinion is that augmented reality will be a bigger deal than virtual reality— at least in the near future, and it’s here now, and growing rapidly, but it’s not a product that will replace an iPhone, but more of a technology that will be used by other technology products, including an iPhone.
And glasses. Especially glasses.
Augmented reality is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. It is related to a more general concept called mediated reality, in which a view of reality is modified (possibly even diminished rather than augmented) by a computer. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality.
Think of this scenario. Point your iPhone’s camera into the night sky to see the stars (not to take a picture). Then, the screen lights up with various and sundry images which identify nearby locations, a few stars, buildings, or anything else within the camera’s path. We already have such AR and it’s included in the popular Pokémon Go app.
Walk down the aisle at the grocery store and you’ll see prices, promotions, even recipes popping out in front of particular products. Get behind the wheel of your car and you’ll see speed limits and dynamic hazard warnings on your windshield. Go to a football game and stats and graphics will display above the field, or over individual players — finally making the in-stadium experience as good as the TV experience again. Augmented reality is going to fundamentally change our expectations of what information is available, and where.
While technology competitors are losing their collective bums on artificial reality, Apple seems content to employ augmented reality into iPhone, iPad, and perhaps the Mac. Time will tell. I remain convinced that what we will see in the next few years is a pair of Apple Glasses. Think Watch meets iPhone meets augmented reality meets LensCrafters; complete with camera and microphone, prescription lenses, but augmented reality visible upon the very lenses in the glasses. Lenses which can display information, videos, alerts and notifications, photos, and much of what you see now on a Watch screen, but right before your eyes.
Bigger than the iPhone?
Not in the traditional product vein, but a technology that begins to pervade anything we can view with out eyes; screens, cameras, glasses lenses, even contact lenses.