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Ambitious investors are often on the hunt for "the next big thing" -- the fresh niche that's about to go mainstream and generate massive revenue. One technology that has repeatedly looked promising on that score is augmented reality (AR). But Google Glass was a flop, and while Pokemon Go had its moment in the sun, we're all still waiting for AR to really take off. In the view of analyst Aaron Bush, though, this may well be the year that one company or another debuts the tech that breaks out. Fellow Fool Matt Argersinger, though, has a more unusual potential transformation on his radar: broadly legalized sports betting.
In this segment from the Motley Fool Money podcast, host Chris Hill talks with Bush about the coming turning point for AR, and why he thinks it might just be Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) that leads it. Plus, Hill and Argersinger discuss the surprising ways gambling could add efficiencies and new market opportunities in places you'd never expect.
A full transcript follows the video.
This video was recorded on Jan. 4, 2019.
Chris Hill: In terms of trends, Aaron, what's got you excited in 2019?
Aaron Bush: Augmented reality. I think it's been a long time since we've had a big new consumer-facing technology to invest in. I have a hunch that AR, and probably VR associated with it, is going to be one of the next big waves, even though some of the hype around it seems to have fizzled out. I might be off by one year, but 2019 could be the year in which good AR products are revealed by at least one major tech company, probably Apple. For Apple, it makes sense. They've been acquiring companies with AR tech since 2013. They released their AR kit, their developer toolkit in late 2017. They have all the pieces in place, controlling the hardware and the software, plus the developer community to make it happen. They probably recognize that winning over the AR market might be as big of a deal one day as winning the smartphone wars was.
I'm a bit iffy on timing, but I'm really excited to see the pieces start to come together. You never know, Apple might have a big AR glasses or something announcement in late 2019.
Matt Argersinger: So, you're saying Apple has a chance?
Bush: I'm saying that they need to do this. Technology is going to shift past smartphones. Services won't be enough. Fingers crossed.
Hill: The cash that Apple has on the balance sheet, that probably also helps them sleep at night.
Argersinger: It helps a little bit.
Hill: In terms of trends, Matty, what about you?
Argersinger: Big trend this year, the past year already but even bigger now this year, sports betting taking off. I've been known to place a bet or two in my time. I think there are broader implications for the economy. The world is far more efficient, far more innovative when it becomes gamified. A competitive marketplace of ideas and dollars that are wagered, inefficiencies tend to get streamlined out.
It's interesting. If you go back to this fall, you could place real money on which party was going to lead the House of Representatives after the November election. You could have placed money on where Amazon was going to open its second headquarters. We talked about that on the show. Imagine betting on things like what the weather is going to be like tomorrow, who's going to succeed Warren Buffett as CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, what's the over and under on the minutes it's going to take for Domino's to deliver my pizza. These might seem like silly things to bet on, but when you're wagering real dollars at scale, it tends to be incredibly informative to the marketplace. It makes the economy more efficient. I'm excited about all the innovations that I think are going to come out of sports betting, especially when it becomes so much more of a mobile application.
Hill: One of the ripple effects that we saw in 2018 in terms of sports betting and the legalization played out in media. In the subsequent months, pretty much every major network, both on the regional level and on the national level, started to roll out programming aimed specifically at betting.
Argersinger: Absolutely. You see it all the time now.