Virtual reality has taken the world by storm in the last couple of years – except it has not. Although the excitement about its potential to become nothing short of awesome has been discussed in great detail in the press, this hasn’t translated into sales. While people will gladly pay amounts close to $1,000 for smartphones that allow them to play real money online video casino games and others as fluidly as possible, they seem to be reluctant to invest a smaller amount into VR gear that has a similar – or often smaller – price. And while it would be a bit harsh to call 2017’s VR headset sales “dismal”, one million units in a quarter is hardly all investors’ dream. So, how did VR do in 2017, after all, and what can we expect from it in 2017?
According to a report published by industry analyst Canalys late in November, the recent price cuts applied by VR headset manufacturers lately have managed to grow their quarterly sales to exceed 1 million units in a quarter for the first time since their launch. Oculus has reduced the price of the Rift headset to $399, matching that of the PlayStation VR, and this allowed it to ship 210,000 units of the product in the third quarter of 2017. Dominating the market is Sony’s own take on virtual reality: PSVR sales exceeded 490,000, good for almost 50% of the entire market. HTC’s Vive, still priced well above the competition at $599, has a market share of 16%, while other manufacturers have 14%.
According to Canalys, the VR headset market will gain a “sizeable” boost in the coming year thanks to new brands and products with support for Microsoft’s “Windows Mixed Reality” platform. The new platform offers support for “a wide range of epic experiences“, including Steam VR, immersive and casual games, travel, 360° videos, social applications, live events, and more. The headsets compatible with these new “experiences” promoted by the Redmond giant include Samsung’s $499 HMD Odyssey, Acer’s $399 headset, and Dell’s $449 Visor. While price-wise, these might not be able to compete with Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro matched with a PSVR headset, their increased flexibility will surely make them attractive for an entire category of users.
“VR in business can be applied to many industries, such as manufacturing, healthcare and education,” Canalys Analyst Jason Low said. “As top-tier PC vendors, including HP, Lenovo, Acer, Asus and Dell, launch their own VR headsets, using their distribution channel efficiencies, one can expect a strong VR uptake in business.”