Ah, 1995! The Usual Suspects is in theaters, Seinfeld is huge on TV, Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise" is booming on radios... and tech analyst Gartner is predicting that virtual reality is just over its peak in hype but well on its way to mass market adoption:
I got this 1995 chart from a great analysis of Gartner's hype cycle by venture capitalist Michael Mullany, who looks into the model's strengths and weaknesses. As I wrote last week, Gartner inexplicably thinks virtual reality will reach mass market adoption in 2-5 years, but even more mysterious is over twenty years ago, Gartner also believed VR was well on its way to the mainstream. If the 1995 analysis had been correct, you'd already be reading this webpage through VR goggles.
This isn't a dig on Gartner per se, because here's another striking thing when you look at that chart. In 1995, Gartner was basically right about every other technology they were tracking there EXCEPT for VR. Take a good look:
Wifi communication, video conferencing, and speech recognition have been mass market for the last 5-10 years or so, intelligent agents (i.e. bots) and emergent computation (i.e. machine learning) are starting to reach a plateau of productivity. As for the Information Superhighway (as a kid I vividly remember Al Gore talking about that constantly when he was Vice President), we don't use that dumb term anymore, because we already take it for granted that all human knowledge and media is available on the Internet.
All of which suggests this: If incredibly smart analysts are more or less right about the future of most technologies, but keep missing their forecast on one particular type of tech (i.e. VR), maybe the failure to go mass market is inherent in the technology itself?