Feature Article

February 11, 2014

Mobile Service Providers, Take Note: Mobile Augmented Reality a Great Opportunity

Things these days have been tough for the mobile service provider. There's a lot of competition out there in the field going after progressively fragmenting markets. We've seen companies like AT&T pursue business from T-Mobile with such fervor that T-Mobile's CEO even called AT&T's plan a “bribe.” With new developments in technology coming out alongside that, though, there's even more to plan for, and some new reports are suggesting that a great place to start looking to the future of mobile provision comes in the form of mobile augmented reality (MAR).

MAR is pretty much exactly what it says on the box: a kind of augmented reality (AR) system specifically geared toward mobile devices. It encompasses much the same principles as AR in general—taking objects from the real world and presenting an overlay of information around those objects by pointing a mobile device's camera at said objects and activating an AR app—but in this case is meant to be used mobile.

With the increasing numbers of mobile devices--smartphones and tablets, but also wearables like Google Glass and others—in the field, that's presenting a critical opportunity for the mobile service provider to do some augmentation of its own, specifically, bringing the MAR concept to the fore and offering it as a critical service to potential users and current users alike. Mobile devices pose a major threat to the concept of MAR, as MAR is a data-heavy—and thus bandwidth-intensive—operation that requires a lot of power to make it happen fully. But if some of that processing need could be removed from the device itself and instead put in a cloud-based resource, that would help. This allows the mobile device to serve as more of a display function as opposed to a MAR content processor. That's a point that mobile providers can come in on, helping to drive MAR by providing some of that extra processing juice required to make the mobile system happen.

But that's not all mobile providers can do to help drive MAR. Helping to process MAR is a good start, but getting in first with the best MAR applications—that are specifically designed to run with the mobile provider's cloud systems—will help out in the long run by offering a quality MAR experience. That's going to get people interested, and not looking in the direction of third-party apps. It will also help to get early adopters interested, which is a big part of the equation. Beyond that, of course, there's the issue of monetization—how to turn that AR app into an earner—and the issue of privacy protection. Privacy protection isn't exactly complex with proper security measures, and monetizing a MAR app could be as simple as offering businesses expanded listings for promotional consideration. A few extra dollars, and restaurants could put up a menu in an AR app, or retailers could add content-specific deals, making MAR a mobile revenue machine.

The key takeaway here is that MAR could be a very big deal indeed for mobile providers, and a new report from Reportlinker.com is available to show just how far it all could go, as well as how to get there. With the right infrastructure to support it and the right presentation to make it accessible, turning to a mobile provider first for MAR may be the first idea, not the last. That's the kind of thing that means opportunity, and for those mobile providers who seize it now, a good chance of success in the near term.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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