ARtillry Briefs is a video series that outlines the top trends we’re tracking, including takeaways from recent reports and market forecasts. See the most recent episode below, and past installments are here

What are today’s tech giants doing in AR? More importantly, what does this mosaic of investment and innovation tell us about the trajectory and velocity of immersive computing? This was the topic of the latest ARtillry Intelligence Briefing and ARtillry Briefs episode (embedded below).

One place to start such an analysis is with the simple yet multi-dimensional question of “Why?” In other words what are the motivating factors that drive deep-pocketed tech giants to chase XR ambitions? Answering that question can reveal insights about “where the puck is going.”

The answer to that question differs for each tech giant. But on another level, the answers share a common thread. When looking at tech’s “four horsemen,” for example — Google, Apple, Facebook & Amazon —  each has XR motivations to protect or grow their core businesses.

For Google, it’s all about search. Its “version” of AR is visual search such as Google Lens and Visual Positioning Service (VPS), which boost search query volume, albeit visually instead of text-based. This positions the increasingly popular smartphone camera as a search input.

Consider Facebook’s core business: Its primary ad revenue correlates to the time we spend in its walled garden. So AR is a means to keep us in that environment longer through more compelling – and advertising-conducive – content to share with friends. Its “version” of AR is Camera Effects.

On to Apple, though it’s increasingly diversifying into software and services, its core business is selling hardware. So most moves it makes are to make iThings more attractive to consumers. AR is no exception, as immersive and visually-compelling apps, via ARkit, make iPhones sexy again.

Amazon is likewise making big XR moves, though perhaps the most shrouded in mystery. Its AR product visualization features engender more informed shoppers who buy more and return less: big factors for the margin-obsessed giant. And its Sumerian platform looms large.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is making big moves in enterprise AR (HoloLens) and consumer VR (Windows Mixed Reality). Snapchat is an early mover in mobile AR, as is Niantic, which is in the midst of an ambitious AR platform play. And Unity continues to expand capabilities in AR.

For more color, check out the latest episode of ARtillry Insights below, and it’s corresponding Intelligence Briefing for a deeper dive.

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Disclosure: ARtillry has no financial stake in the companies mentioned in this post, nor received payment for its production. Disclosure and ethics policy can be seen here.