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Augmented reality and Trump

Will augmented reality developers be hit by Trump’s 'build it at home plans?

By Sam

As America welcomes Donald J. Trump to the White House, there are a lot of unanswered questions about his policies.  The particulars of what this election means for the tech industry, and more specifically the augmented reality industry, will be realized as Trump lays out his agenda.

With the augmented reality space gaining significant momentum in the last few months with key milestones like the unprecedented success of PokemonGo and the release of the first Tango-enabled device, will the new administration’s policies hinder or accelerate its growth trajectory?

Indeed, Donald Trump’s stance on net neutrality, immigration policies for skilled tech workers, and international trade agreements have raised concern among leaders in Silicon Valley.  However, it is his position on taxes and overseas cash that could have the greatest impact on the future of augmented reality.

Trump has made it clear he wants to bring jobs back to the U.S., and one way he proposes to do that is by enacting a 35% tax on products made outside of the U.S.  He went so far as to say, “We’re going to get Apple to build their damn computers and things in this country instead of other countries.”  If tech companies manufactured in the U.S., hardware prices would soar to compensate for higher worker wages.

This would be detrimental to the widespread adoption of augmented reality headsets.  Today, the developer versions of the leading headsets available already come with a hefty price tag.  The Microsoft Hololens developer version costs $3000.  Meaning developers have to spend $3000 to begin to work on applications for the technology.  Before the technology is released to consumers, developers are given access to create a wide breadth of applications for consumers.  If developers can’t afford the technology to begin developing on because of Trump’s taxes, then the full power of AR may never be realized and consumer releases could be pushed back indefinitely.

On the other hand, with Republicans in control there is the possibility of some tax relief to incentivize companies to bring foreign cash back to the U.S.  This could motivate companies to invest and acquire assets.  Mergers and acquisitions would be expected to rise.

Almost all of the large tech players including Apple and Facebook have indicated that they are bullish on the promise of augmented reality, and many have already made acquisitions in the space.  Apple has bought AR & VR companies including Metaio, Faceshift, and Primesense.

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With a Trump tax incentive, investments in augmented reality by the large players could continue to pick up.  M&As would encourage more development and help expedite advancements in the space.

It is too early to tell exactly how Trump policy will impact the growth of augmented reality, but if we take the proliferation we have seen over the last six months alone, there is no doubt augmented reality will be a dominant presence in our futures.

The Author: Lindsay Boyajian is the chief marketing officer of Augment. Augment, backed by Salesforce Ventures, is the leading augmented reality as a service platform.

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