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Creating an Augmented or Virtual Reality app can be both fun and beneficial to your business. But it can be easy to get caught up in the excitement without weighing if an AR or VR app makes sense for your customers. Cubicle Ninjas has created over 50 AR and VR apps for all shades of diverse industries, and here’s our ninja thoughts on when you should avoid building your own original creation.

1. Don’t Make An AR or VR App If You’re Just Trying To Be Trendy.


Trends change lightning fast in tech. If you want to build software to excite the cool kids, then you are looking at software development from the wrong perspective. An Augmented or Virtual Reality App needs to come from the same place a traditional App Store app would, from a genuine user need. Having an idea with a potential market, the resources to polish this software to perfection, the time and patience to see this to fruition without getting distracted, and the money to market this app to the world. Building an app without any of these key ingredients guarantees failure, even if a niche audience loves it. The cool kids’ gratitude sadly won’t pay the bills.

2. Don’t Make An AR or VR App To Become Scrooge McDuck Rich.

Case Study: ROAR

Now, you might be wondering why on earth you would go and build an augmented reality or virtual reality app if it wasn’t for the cash, but we are talking about something slightly different. Very few apps will make the creators wealthy beyond their means. Especially new technology that still has low adoption. So there shouldn’t be the belief that it will make you rich overnight or even that you’ll recoup your investment across many years. Look at it from a long-term investment perspective because anything else is going to be a massive waste of time and capital while the install base grows.

Further reading: Wanna Get Rich? Don’t Build An App.

3. Don’t Make An AR or VR App If You are Just Copying Another Idea.

Case Study: Guided Meditation VR

This applies to any kind of software and not just an Augmented or Virtual Reality app, but if you are planning on basically copying another app that is out there, then please don’t. Spend the time creating your own idea, research into it, look at the market, and understand the costs of putting it all together because coming up with your own idea that has been perfectly executed will certainly work out better for you. Being a second tier ripoff isn’t a good goal, you should always strive to be unique.

4. Don’t Make An AR or VR App If You Are A Startup and This Is Your Entire Business.


Case Study: StickAR

Because the market is still finding its legs, building an Augmented or Virtual Reality app only startup business is insanely risky. Only a few businesses (mainly well-funded by millions in venture capitalist investment) have found ways to make significant revenues, with the majority striving to keep their head above water believing in a brighter tomorrow. And by the time you define your requirements, design, and build, will the market even be the same? While we love both augmented and virtual reality apps, your best bet is to establish solid cash flow as a business free of technology.

Further reading: Don’t Build an App, Build a Business

5. Don’t Make An AR or VR App Because Everyone In Your Industry Is Doing It.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles AR Campaign

Case Study: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles AR Campaign

Industries often suffer from blind copying, hoping your competitors know something you don’t. In reality, first efforts in new technology are mainly done to grab the precious PR associated with innovation, rarely from a beneficial business perspective. Smart businesses can use this to their advantage and out execute their core competencies instead of picking fights.

Augmented or Virtual Reality app technology is still quite new, so even though it is becoming more popular, there’s no doubt that the exact future is certain. You might want to hold on a bit to see how your competitor’s app develops or you potentially run the risk of spending money and wasting time on apps that might not even take off in the first place. Looking like a reasoned, intelligent, focused business is much better than chasing the competition.

6. Don’t Make An AR or VR App If You’re Not Willing To Properly Invest in Software.

Case Study: Winning Drive

People think that because an app can sell for under $1, or completely free even, that it must be cheap to produce it in the first place. Well, that’s not strictly true for most app creators. If the cost of a car can range so drastically even when mass produced in the millions, a custom built car would likely be significantly more. Developing custom software is time-consuming to create and even more so when you are looking at using hot new technology, so if you don’t have a large enough budget, then look elsewhere. Of course, how much it ultimately costs you will vary depending on what you are hoping to build, but not having a good grip of the finances is certainly a bad way to go.

7. Don’t Make An AR or VR App If You are Simply Copying Something on Your Website.

Filter AR Filters for Gear VR

Case Study: Filter

If you are thinking about just copying something from your website and transforming it into an app, then stop what you are doing immediately. Often, people will be doing this simply because they feel the need to make an app, but they don’t understand what makes the medium unique. A book isn’t a movie isn’t a website isn’t an app. Play to the unique core strengths of the technology to do something that only this format could do. If you’re just mirroring your website exactly, you’re probably wasting time and money.

Further reading: Why Web Apps Are The Future Of Augmented Reality

8. Don’t Make An AR or VR App If You Plan on Using a Cheap “Build It Yourself” App Software.

Case Study: Mauzy

There are some websites out there that state they will allow you to code Augmented or Virtual Reality apps for cheap or even free. However, the point of a good app is to amaze potential customers. It can be hard to amaze when you’re using content you capture on your phone using unbranded generic templates. You should avoid them because not only will you be limited in what you can do, but there’s a pretty good chance that adverts will also be included and this is going to have a negative impact on the user experience. Allowing a hackable third party full control over your users is a great way to become the next scandal.

Thought leaders aren’t designing their logos in 24 hours with a free website. They aren’t coding their websites in 24 hours. They aren’t building their mobile apps from templates in 24 hours. So, why would Augmented or Virtual Reality apps be any different? If you cannot afford to have it created by a professional, or learn how to do it yourself, then avoid doing it at all.

Further reading: Getting Real by 37signals

9. Don’t Make An AR or VR App If You Don’t Have the Money to Market it.


Dealership VR

Case Study: Dealership VR

Unless you have a clear, and pretty substantial, marketing budget set aside for your brilliant Augmented or Virtual Reality app, then you should avoid creating it in the first place. Companies are investing huge sums of money in getting their apps noticed in what is becoming an ever increasingly competitive world, so if you think that you can get away with spending next to nothing, then you would be wrong. If there’s no budget, then there should be no app developed.

Further reading: The Much Does It Really Cost To Promote Your App?

10. Don’t Make An AR or VR App If You’re Only Showing A Single 360 Video.

Case Study: Argonne National Laboratory

Asking a user to download an app just to play a single 360 video is a waste of their time. While 360 video is very powerful, and we love how fun 360 storytelling can be for brands, it would make more sense to broaden your software. Can you add in interactivity? Can you increase the content? Can you delight in ways only this medium can? Can you help to make sure they’ll want to come back, versus instantly deleting your experience? Because if not, you’re better off just showcasing your 360 video through Google Cardboard on video sites like YouTube or a social platform like Facebook.

When Is The Right Time To Build An Augmented Or Virtual Reality App?

We’ve seen apps tend to be most successful when they meet at least one of the requirements below:

  • They have a team dedicated to helping an app through the creation process and post launch.
  • They believe in the power of Minimum Viable Products (MVPs), and that the best software is built through iteration.
  • They see multiple ways the app can be utilized today within their existing business to solve pains.
  • They want to stand out in a crowded marketplace, looking for new ways to amaze and delight existing customers.
  • They see the app as an investment in their long-term software and business goals.

Still feel like you’re ready to build a custom VR or AR app? With over 50 reality apps under our belt, Cubicle Ninjas has the expertise to bring any idea to life!



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