Tethered headsets are watching their share disappear to lower-priced VR.
With prices dropping and wires disappearing, virtual reality (VR) devices that let people move more freely, without taking a bite from their wallet, are going to drive sales in coming years. VR headsets like Oculus Go and Lenovo Mirage Solo will be attractive to people who have yet to even taste virtual reality, and will help to drive shipments of both augmented reality (AR) and VR devices to nearly 66 million units by 2022 — an astronomical leap from the 8.9 million expected this year, says research group IDC.
That's not to say there haven't been some hiccups this year. AR and VR headsets have careened this year, down 30.5 percent, says IDC mostly due to unbundling of so-called screenless headsets — like Google Cardboard-styled devices — from smartphone sales.
These VR devices, like the Samsung Gear VR, require a smartphone to play virtual reality content which is then viewed through the headset. They are lower in price than more robust headsets like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. But the latter two also require powerful computers to drive the content to the devices, tethered to PCs through cables.
Standalone VR headsets, like the recently launched Lenovo Mirage Solo and the Oculus Go, can store and play VR content directly through their headsets, are not attached to a computer — and are hundreds of dollars less expensive. They're also expected to make up the bulk of the AR and VR market by 2022 — owning 33 percent.
AR devices will also see huge growth in the next four years with tethered and standalone AR headsets expected to command nearly 40 percent of the market, to the nearly 55 percent standalone and tethered VR sets will hold.
"Looking ahead, consumers can expect easier-to-use devices at lower price points," said Jitesh Ubrani, senior researcher analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers, in a release. "Combine that with a growing lineup of content from game makers, Hollywood studios, and even vocational training institutions, and we see a brighter future for the adoption of virtual reality."