The latest forecast for the growth of virtual reality earlier this week may be a bit misleading, with the road to mass consumer adoption not a clear path.
Shipments of VR headsets are projected to grow 47% annually, reaching 38 million devices shipped in 2023, according to IDC.
Another bullish estimate by Reportlinker estimates the market will be worth more than five times its current value within five years, projecting annual market growth of 35% with the value increasing from $8 billion to more than $44 billion by 2024.
However, some other research by Reportlinker indicates the consumer future may not be so rosy for virtual reality. The firm has been tracking VR consumer sentiment annually and the latest surveys highlight some market concerns.
It turns out that people in the U.S. are less familiar with virtual reality now than they were in 2016 or 2017.
While most (56%) people have heard about virtual reality, they’re not able to explain it. More significantly, fewer than a quarter (23%) of people are familiar with it and could explain it to someone else. That’s down 13% from 2017, when more than a third (36%) of people were very familiar with it and could even explain it to a friend.
Brands take a hit here as well. Just over a quarter (28%) of people can name a VR industry leader, which is 17% fewer than in 2017.
The good news is that the majority (62%) of consumers have a positive attitude about virtual reality.
I noticed at CES in January that there was substantially less buzz and fewer VR demonstrations, most notably missing in the Eureka Park innovation arena, unlike the previous year.
VR remains strong in gaming, for sure. It’s also finding its way into training by companies including Walmart. But that’s not mass enough.
VR needs some PR.