As a startup founder, one of the first questions I always get is “who are your competitors?” It’s rarely good to answer “no one,” but that is the case with virtual reality. I am not saying that no one else does something similar to what we’re working on, but at this stage in the game, they are not competitors.
The main competition for VR is non-adoption.
At Virt, we create virtual walkthroughs for real estate and hospitality. There are some other players in this space (Matterport, YouVisit, and Floored to name a few) but we aren’t competitors. We are more like collaborators. The true threat to our businesses right now isn’t that one of us dominates the entire market - it’s that none of us will.
Our real competition is 2D photos and videos. Almost every home for sale, apartment for rent, hotel, restaurant, retail store etc has an online, 2D presence. Less than 1% of homes on the market have a virtual tour (a real one - not a slideshow with music). Even fewer businesses have a 3D online presence. Why should we fight over this tiny slice of the market instead of getting the rest of it into VR?
While competition is usually a “bad” thing for business (see Peter Thiel’s love for monopolies), in some cases it’s actually necessary. Have you ever noticed how fast food restaurants always congregate in the same area? Wouldn’t it be easier if the competition wasn’t right there on your doorstep? Fast food is in a similar boat as VR - they are not as worried about each other as they are about people not eating fast food at all. The main hurdle is getting the consumer to think “fast food,” and having lots of options in the same area does just that.
It’s the same with virtual tours. We need more options to draw people into our market and to increase our market’s visibility. We need to share the burden of educating customers on why virtual tours are so much better for their business than 2D content. This is how we get the other 99% of real estate into VR - by growing the pie as a whole, not fighting over slices.