The year 2016 will be remembered as the debut of consumer virtual reality (VR), with key ambassadors in the form of Facebook/Oculus, HTC/Valve, Sony, Samsung, and a collective community of companies in China planting their stakes in the ground with formidable investments in jumpstarting a new computing platform. After a shaky start, Facebook’s Oculus Rift and HTC/Valve’s VIVE started selling in the United States in 3Q 2016 and are stabilizing their ecosystems and distribution in 4Q 2016, as they are joined by Sony with the debut of PlayStation VR. A number of lessons have been learned since the 1990s when consumer VR last generated this much hype, with huge strides having been made in terms of creating compelling content and a convincing level of immersion.
According to a new report from Tractica, VR head-mounted display (HMD) shipments will reach 130 million units annually by 2021, up from just 17 million in 2016. During that period, mobile VR headsets will dominate the market, accounting for approximately 75% of all units sold, but console-based, PC-based, and the forthcoming all-in-one HMDs will all gain ground during the years ahead, as well. The market intelligence firm forecasts that annual worldwide revenue from VR HMDs, accessories, and content will reach $35 billion by 2021.
“Getting users to experience VR technology firsthand, and therefore truly understand its potential, remains a challenge,” says principal analyst Mark Beccue. “With that said, the emergence of low-cost mobile VR solutions is helping.”
Beccue adds that the stakes are high given the huge amount of money invested in the industry by some of the world’s largest technology companies, and that as a consequence, industry players continue fine-tuning their products so as not to muddy the water for all involved. “The product roadmap for VR companies represents a steep uphill climb with huge potential rewards,” says Beccue.
Tractica’s report, “Virtual Reality for Consumer Markets”, provides a comprehensive analysis of the market dynamics, technology issues, and competitive landscape for consumer VR HMDs, accessories, and content. The report features global market forecasts for annual unit shipments and associated revenue during the period from 2014 through 2021, segmented by five world regions. HMDs are segmented into four product types: PC-based devices, console-based devices, all-in-one devices, and mobile VR headsets. VR accessories, such as gamepads and other VR-specific controllers, hand tracking devices, and 360° cameras are also quantitatively analyzed. The content market is segmented into gaming and media. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the firm’s website.