Facebook, Snapchat Power Augmented Reality Well Past VR

By the growth percentages, virtual reality is beating augmented reality, by a lot.

However, by the numbers, augmented reality usage this year will be almost double that of virtual reality.

Virtual reality, driven primarily by 360-degree videos on social networks, will grow 110% from last year, according to new data from eMarketer.

Meanwhile, augmented reality, fueled by Snapchat Lenses, Facebook Stories and Instagram Stories, will grow 30% this year.

However, the growth percentages can be misleading.

Last year, there were 11 million users of virtual reality, but 31 million users of augmented reality, according to eMarketer.

This year, there will be 22 million VR users, roughly half the number of AR users (40 million).

The gaming industry is the big VR driver, with 10 million people in the U.S. using a headset monthly.

In its definition of virtual reality, eMarketer includes 360-degree videos, photos and product at demos via any device, such as connected TVs, PCs, mobile devices and headsets and usage comprises at least one monthly use.

This year, only 3% of the population will use a VR headset and 5% by 2019. Here is the forecast for virtual reality usage:

  • 2016 – 11 million
  • 2017 – 22 million
  • 2018 – 37 million
  • 2019 – 49 million

The real action is in augmented reality.

After Pokémon Go introduced AR to the masses, its usage became considerably more widespread. Here’s eMarketer’s forecast for augmented reality usage:

  • 2016 – 31 million
  • 2017 – 40 million
  • 2018 – 48 million
  • 2019 – 54 million

Unlike the relatively small VR usage, 12% of the U.S. population will engage with some form of AR content monthly this year and 16% by 2019.

With Facebook and Snapchat as driving engines, augmented reality is poised to maintain its lead over VR.

Plus, a person doesn’t have to remove themselves from real reality to use AR.

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