Is Apple really going to go all out, investing heavily in augmented reality (AR)? That’s what the company has been talking about for the past six months, and it’s why a host of cheeky startups have tried to beat them to the punch. How have these upstarts fared?
Well, Osterhout Design Group, out of Germany, started out strong in the AR field, but they grew too big for their britches, and their own technology glitches — manufacturing problems at the source of several of their components led the startup to pull in its horns early in November, and now the company is feverishly trying to fulfill current orders while wrestling with customer service issues that mean it won’t be premiering anything new for at least six more months — and in the AR game, that is instant death. AR thrives on new technology to enhance the AR experience on a month-by-month basis — users demand constant updates, or they grow bored and look for other brands to keep them titillated. Word on the street is that Osterhout is looking for a buyout from either Magic Leap or Facebook. They’ve already laid off over half of their employees.
Entrepreneurs considering an AR startup should take heed of this sad story; the moral is simple — Stick to the basics, build a solid customer base, and let your competitors make all the tech mistakes, so you can learn from them without going broke.