Market penetration

Today, after giving a research talk at Oculus about educational uses of Virtual Reality, I was having a conversation with some of my colleagues there. One of them related an interesting anecdote about VR.

It seems that one day not that long ago, when he and a colleague at Oculus were taking a taxi, the driver overheard their conversation about Virtual Reality and volunteered that she used VR at home. Eventually it came out that she used it to watch pornography.

My colleague, intrigued, asked her whether this was something she did when she was alone. Oh no, she replied, she experienced VR porn together with her boyfriend.

It seems that they did this while they were having intimate relations. They would each don a VR headset, and watch a different sexual fantasy, while at the same time engaging in similar activities with one another.

He and his colleague expressed surprise at this unexpected use case. Their driver replied that lots of her friends used it in the same way.

When he told me this story, I told him that it didn’t seem surprising at all. After all, this is exactly what happened in the early days of VHS.

Until the late 1970s, pornographic films were mainly watched furtively by men in seedy movie theaters. It was not an activity people wanted to be caught doing.

But it turned out that the advent of home video led to a far larger market: Couples who liked to watch porn together in the privacy of their own homes.

Women would not have been caught dead going into a seedy porn theater, but watching erotic films at home with their boyfriend was a turn-on. It was a way to set the mood in a safe and comfortable environment.

As with many emerging media, pornography turned out to be a market leader. Once enough people had purchased the VHS players, they were more likely to rent other sorts of movies as well, and the industry grew rapidly.

So I told my colleague that from an historical perspective, this use case was only to be expected. In fact, it is great news for the Virtual Reality industry, and it bodes very well indeed for future market penetration.

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