Virtual, augmented and mixed reality have a competition problem.

But while most AR/VR companies will tell you how much better they are than their nearest direct competitor, they’re picking the wrong fight. The main event isn’t between Oculus, HTC, Sony, Samsung and Google for VR, or Microsoft, Magic Leap, Meta and ODG for AR (including mixed reality). There are far bigger and scarier competitors out there.

Status Quo

Status quo is AR/VR’s biggest competitor (and I don’t mean the band that opened Live Aid).

People spend almost 11 hours a day using electronic media. That means out of the average 79 years folks spend on the planet, more than 34 of them are devoted to media. What could be so fascinating that we give almost half of our lives to it?

media time AR/VR

TV (live and time shifted) makes up 48 percent of media time, phone/tablet 20 percent, radio 18 percent, online PC 9 percent and everything else 6 percent. And while most media are flat to down, smartphones and tablets have done what was previously thought impossible: They grew the media market. Phone/tablet time has more than doubled to more than two hours a day in the last two years alone. And this skews even more strongly the younger you are. Old farts complaining about young people glued to their phones aren’t just being grumps — they’re being right.

So the biggest question is how does AR/VR compete with TVs, phones and tablets?