70 Million VR-Enabled Smartphones Projected To Ship This Year

Smartphone-powered virtual reality is projected to experience high growth, while the PC counterparts may sit on the sidelines.

The number of VR-enabled smartphones and tablets entering the market is projected to increase in the last quarter of this year, according to a new report by Digitimes Research.

The highest numbers are expected to come from VR video-enabled smartphones and bundles of non-mobile VR units combined with gaming consoles.

For the immediate future, the number of VR headsets bundled with VR-ready PCs entering the market will remain low, due largely in part to their high prices, according to the report.

Gaming and video are projected to continue to lead the market for the rest of the year.

Upon its release next month, Sony is expected to ship more than 3 million PlayStation VR units by the end of the year, which would place it at the top among console-based VR headsets, according to Digitimes.

The increase in smartphone-based VR comes mostly from major suppliers in the mobile space implementing VR capabilities in their flagship products, as well as working to refine the requirements needed to do so in other devices, according to Digitimes.

For example, Samsung recently launched an updated version of its Gear VR headset, which enables any of the mobile giant’s flagship devices to power virtual reality experiences. This functionality has also been a core component of marketing the devices.

Another recent study by Ovum also found that mid-level mobile VR units like Samsung’s Gear VR, which are powered by and tethered directly to a smartphone, will account for more than half (65%) of VR units sold in 2020.

That study projects 68 million virtual reality devices to be sold by the end of the year. In the next five years, the market will grow to nearly 140 million VR devices sold, according to Ovum.

On the process refinement side, Digitimes expects Google to release an updated version of its VR application later this year. This update is expected to reduce the algorithm requirements for enabling virtual reality experiences on mobile devices, which could further accelerate the implementation of VR capabilities in smartphones across manufacturers, according to the report.

By the end of the year, Digitimes estimates that 70 million VR-enabled smartphones will have been shipped.

VR devices that don’t rely on a smartphone, such as the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and soon-to-be-released PlayStation VR, are projected to capture 21% of the market by 2020, according to the Ovum study.

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