After years of hard work in overseas markets, Nreal, a Chinese AR startup, plans to expand its Chinese market presence and will soon release consumer-grade AR products.
The company is to hold a product launch event in China in late August 2022. Xu Chi, co-founder and CEO of Nreal, had an in-depth exchange about the AR industry, Nreal’s AR technology layout and other topics at a media communication meeting on August 15.
Nreal was founded in January 2017. Its founder Xu Chi has worked as an engineer at MagicLeap, an early AR company. Its investment lineup is luxurious, including Kuaishou, NIO Capital, YF Capital, Sequoia China and other notable names. On March 30, the AR company announced that it had completed the round C+ financing worth $60 million, which was led by Alibaba.
Xu said that the current AR market is similar to the smartphone industry in 2007, which is at an inflection point and the underlying technology is beginning to mature. Previously, Nreal focused on overseas markets, launched AR glasses for telecom operators, and positioned fashionable digital product maker for streaming media broadcasting and fitness applications.
According to Strategy Analytics, a market research organization, Nreal’s share of consumer-grade AR terminal shipments reached 75% in 2021, and by the first half of 2022, the figure had risen to 81%.
The AR market has a high threshold. The IDC has said before that if a start-up wants to enter this market, it needs to provide customized services for the enterprise in the short term, because it is difficult for consumers to spend thousands of dollars to buy a product with little by way of popular content.
This is one of the reasons why Nreal products have not yet appeared in China. Xu mentioned that the company had planned to enter the domestic market before, but it still hoped to improve the user experience before releasing their products.
Xu said that compared with Europe, America, Japan and South Korea, the maturity of China’s AR market is relatively low, and users need to intuitively feel the experience of innovation brought by AR through some application products jointly created with other giant companies so that users can begin to get a feel for AR products. At present, the company cooperates with iQIYI and other content platforms to launch adaptation applications for its AR glasses to improve the depth of viewed content. The company has also worked with Steam and other applications to further strengthen the software application ecology in overseas markets.
However, Xu also stressed that the supply chain in the AR equipment field is not mature enough and professionals are scarce. AR glasses not only need to allow users to see the real world through lenses but also need to project virtual images clearly, which requires a continuous improvement of display technology.
At present, Nreal has begun to actively try and explore the developer ecology abroad. According to Xu, there are nearly 20,000 overseas developers interacting on the Nreal platform. Although there is a lack of AR application developers in China at present, with the expansion of terminal scale, Xu believes that more and more Chinese developers will join in.