Research firm IDC today weighs in on the market for virtual reality and augmented reality, predicting that despite somewhat limited sales to date of things such as Sony’s (SNE) “PlayStation 4” with “PSVR” headset, that the market is set to soar in coming years.
IDC last offered its views on the matter three weeks ago, when it reported that consumers are “cautious” about buying into VR and AR.
In today’s report, the firm opines that total sales of VR and AR headsets, including the PSVR, but also Facebook’s (FB) Oculus unit’s “Rift” unit, and HTC’s (2498TW) “Vive” headset, and, presumably, devices such as Vuzix’s (VUZI) augmented-reality headset, will sell collectively about 10 million devices this year.
That number is expected to surge to roughly 100 million units sold in the year 2021, opines IDC, a lot of that helped by lower costs for the headsets, lower requirements for companion personal computers to run the devices, and also what are known as “standalone” headsets, which don’t require any connection to a PC or a smartphone to operate.
As IDC researcher Jitesh Ubrani puts it: "The next six to 18 months will further stimulate the VR market as PC vendors, along with Microsoft, introduce tethered headsets and high-end standalone VR headsets also enter the market. With lower hardware requirements on the PC and lower prices on headsets, VR will be more accessilbe than ever before. And the introduction of additional motion tracking and hand tracking will help further blur the line between digital and physical reality."
Interestingly, the firm finds that by 2021, the vast majority of augmented reality shipments, 83%, will be used in commercial applications, while the vast majority of VR will be in the consumer market. At 20 million units or so in 2021, the AR headset market sold into commercial situations will slightly exceed the 18 million units of VR headsets sold for commercial uses, the firm believes.
"We believe that many industrial jobs will fundamentally change because of AR in the next 5-years, and these are much more opportunistic markets for dedicated AR headsets than the consumer market,” IDC states.
"We expect commercial shipments to account for just over 80% of all AR headsets shipped in the next 5 years."