Sales of VR and AR headsets are expected to show triple-digit growth for 2017, despite a cautious approach from consumers, according to IDC.
The IDC Worldwide Quarterly Augmented and Virtual Reality Headset Tracker shows shipments of headsets reached 2.28m in the first quarter of this year, up 70% from Q1 2016.
Sales were down from 3.86m in Q4 of last year, although with many new products due to launch in the second half of this year, the analyst company is forecasting triple-digit growth for the full year.
VR headsets make up the vast majority of sales, accounting for 98% of shipments in Q1 2017, or 2.24m units. AR headsets shipped 38,000 units.
In VR, two-thirds of all headset shipments were screenless viewers, such as Samsung’s Gear VR and Google’s Daydream View. Meanwhile, tethered VR headsets, such as the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Sony’s PSVR, accounted for one third of the market.
“The VR market is still very young and consumers seem to be taking a cautious approach,” said Jitesh Ubrani senior research analyst for IDC’s Mobile Device Trackers. “With plenty of headset options already in the market and even more coming soon, hardware isn’t the issue. The bigger challenge is the slow growth in content that appeals to a mass audience, combined with the confusion associated with a lack of cross-platform support.”
AR headsets saw year-over-year shipment growth of 77.4% as new products began shipping and existing headsets expanded distribution to additional countries. “It’s very early days in terms of augmented reality headsets, with the vast majority of products shipping into the market focused on getting hardware into the hands of developers,” said Tom Mainelli, vice president of Devices and AR/VR at IDC. “Meanwhile, we expect most consumers to experience their first taste of augmented reality through the cameras and screens of their existing mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.”
In terms of vendors, Samsung continues to dominate with its Gear VR shipping highest volumes in the market, giving Samsung 21.5% of the market. Samsung’s large distribution network and its partnership with Oculus were supporting this lead, and although shipments declined in part due to the lack of complementing Note mobile handsets, the release of new products is expected to drive new growth in future.
Sony has taken just under 19% market share, and its PlayStation VR headset and the large install base of PS4 is likely to see it retain this lead in the near term, Gartner said.
HTC, with 8.4% of the market, has also proven to be an attractive proposition to high end consumers with the HTC Vive, and the vendor has also been successful in commercial VR sales for environments such as VR cafes. HTC has also supported the hardware with app store and subscription model to support sales.
Facebook’s Oculus Rift has secured 4.4% of the market, and is expected to do more in future, while TCL, supplier of Alcatel VR headset which is bundled with Alcatel Idol 4/s smartphones has around 4% market share.