They're just not interested.
Virtual reality technology has failed to capture the imagination or interest of American teens, according to a new survey by investment bank Piper Sandler.
The survey found that only 29 percent of the 5,600 US teens polled owned a device capable of VR, and only four percent of them said they used it daily.
A mere seven percent said they were planning on buying a VR headset in the future. A whopping 52 percent said they were either unsure or uninterested — a notable data point, considering Apple is rumored to announce its own headset later this year. In other words, VR has completely failed to connect with the adolescents who have traditionally driven the popularity of new electronics like smartphones or portable music players.
These results paint a gloomy picture of the future of the tech. While companies, most notably Facebook-turned-Meta, have poured billions of dollars into VR, the industry is still on existentially shaky ground.
In November of last year, Meta laid off 11,000 employees, including a number of employees in the company's VR Reality Labs division. Earlier this year, Disney shut down its entire metaverse division, while Microsoft shut down a social VR platform it bought in 2017.
Even Meta's top-selling Quest 2 headset is already seeing declining sales, despite being launched back in 2020.
In other words, the fact that the tech isn't catching on with teens is yet another nail in the coffin for VR.
"To us, the lukewarm usage demonstrates that VR remains ‘early days’ and that these devices are less important than smartphones," Piper Sandler wrote in its survey.
Whether Meta's upcoming next-gen VR headset or Apple's own take will be able to breathe new life into the ailing industry is an open question — but we wouldn't hold our breath.
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