Commentary

Virtual Reality Headset Shipments Forecast To 61M

Virtual reality and augmented reality seem to have a bright future, with AR and VR viewers expected to experience high growth numbers in the coming years.

Over the next four years, global shipments of VR headsets will increase by more than six times and the number of AR headset shipments will increase by 150 times, according to new research from IDC.

By 2020, VR headset shipments will grow to 61 million units globally, up from just more than 10 million units shipped this year, according to IDC.

AR headset shipments will grow to 15 million in that timeframe, from 100,000 this year. This is mostly due to the nascent stage of augmented reality headsets, according to Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst at IDC

"AR may just be on track to create a shift in computing significant enough to rival the smartphone,” Ubrani said. “However, the technology is still in its infancy and has a long runway ahead before reaching mass adoption.”

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This seems to be consistent with at least one other long-term projection for the AR and VR industries.

For example, a recent study by Citi’s Global Perspectives and Solutions Group projected the landscape of the AR and VR industries to shift from high-growth in virtual reality to high-growth in augmented reality after 2020, as the IoT Daily recently reported (AR Market Projected To Reach $1.3 Trillion, 25% Of Online Commerce By 2035).

That study, which forecasts AR and VR to grow to be a $2.16 trillion industry by 2035, also found that AR will grow 68% on average between 2020 and 2025.

"Augmented reality represents the larger long-term opportunity, but for the near term virtual reality will capture the lion's share of shipments and media attention," said Tom Mainelli, vice president of AR and VR at IDC.

"This year we saw major VR product launches from key players such as Oculus, HTC, Sony, Samsung and Google, he said. “In the next 12 months, we’ll see a growing number of hardware vendors enter the space with products that cover the gamut from simple screenless viewers to tethered HMDs to standalone HMDs.”

IDC groups VR and AR headsets into the categories of mobile-based viewers, such as Samsung’s Gear VR, PC or console-based head-mounted displays (HMD), such as Oculus’ Rift, HTC’s Vive and Sony’s PlayStation VR, and standalone HMD units like Microsoft’s HoloLens.

Most standalone HMD applications are geared toward AR, while the other two categories typically revolve around virtual reality applications.

Mobile-based VR viewers without built-in computing capabilities, such as Google Cardboard, are not included in IDC’s numbers.

Editor's Note: This post was previously published in an earlier edition of IoT Daily.

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