Analysis, Augmented Reality (AR), News, Smartphones, Virtual Reality (VR)

VR and AR shipments to grow 517% by 2021

Market intelligence firm IDC sees substantial growth in store for the VR and AR markets, with shipments expected to reach 59.2 million headsets by 2021, up from 9.6 million this year. These projects come in IDC’s “Worldwide Quarterly Augmented and Virtual Reality Headset Tracker” research report, published last week.

The firm notes that low-cost, screenless VR viewers (e.g. headsets that utilize smartphones) have dominated the market to date, but sees this category losing market share going forward, with a shift into tethered and standalone VR/AR solutions.

According to their report, screenless viewers will represent less than 15% of the total VR/AR market in 2021, with tethered and standalone headsets moving into top market share spots.

“The VR market, young as it is, is in the midst of a crucial transition as buyers are gravitating towards tethered headset and PC or game console bundles that offer advanced tracking and higher fidelity rather than settling for low-cost headset and smartphone bundles,” said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC’s Mobile Device Trackers.

“This bodes well for the entire VR ecosystem as the improved experience of a dedicated device draws a more dedicated audience.”

Commercial shipments will also increase, with the rate of growth being even more dramatic than for consumers. IDC sees commercial shipments of VR headsets jumping from 1 million this year to 12.6 million at the end of 2021. Augmented reality headsets, they predict, will see even more commercial shipments, coming in at 15.6 million by the end of 2021.

“We have long believed that AR headsets will play a fundamental role in changing the way many companies do business,” said Ryan Reith, program vice president with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers.

“AR will introduce technology to a large portion of the work force that was never able to benefit from technological advances because of the need to use their hands to complete their job functionality,” he said.