AR/VR Headset Shipments Forecast to Hit 100 Million Units By 2021, Buoyed By Apple, Microsoft, and Others

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Earlier this month at the Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple revealed its first big push into the augmented reality and virtual reality spaces, with a new ARKit developer framework and high-performance iMacs with native support for VR content creation.

On Monday, research firm IDC published new data forecasting significant growth in both markets, with dedicated AR and VR headset adoption expected to increase from just under 10 million units last year to 100 million units in 2021.


VR headsets account for much of the device volume so far, with VR headsets powered by a smartphone proving the most popular, according to IDC. The second half of 2016 also saw an increase in volume of Sony PlayStation VR, HTC Vive, and Facebook's Oculus Rift.
"The next six to 18 months will further stimulate the VR market as PC vendors, along with Microsoft, introduce tethered headsets and high-end standalone VR headsets also enter the market," said Jitesh Ubrani senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers. "With lower hardware requirements on the PC and lower prices on headsets, VR will be more accessible than ever before. And the introduction of additional motion tracking and hand tracking will help further blur the line between digital and physical reality."
Although IDC believes VR headsets will continue to dominate the market in terms of volume for the foreseeable future, the firm believes AR will have a much bigger impact on the industry as a whole, in part thanks to Apple's recent entry onto the scene.
In terms of dedicated devices, AR continues to sit slightly in the background of VR. The reason for this is not that AR is less important, but rather it is harder to achieve. IDC believes VR headsets will continue to lead in terms of volume throughout the forecast, but maintains that AR in general will have a much bigger impact overall on the industry. Consumers are very likely to have their first AR experience via a mobile phone or tablet rather than a dedicated headset, and Apple's recent introduction of ARKit further supports this.

IDC believes AR headsets will become increasingly popular in markets such as healthcare, manufacturing, field service workers, and design, with commercial shipments to account for just over 80 percent of all AR headsets shipped in the next 5 years. "We believe that many industrial jobs will fundamentally change because of AR in the next 5-years," said Ryan Reith, IDC program vice president. "These are much more opportunistic markets for dedicated AR headsets than the consumer market."

Mobile app developers have been sharing early creations using Apple's new ARKit, suggesting huge enthusiasm for the possibilities for AR on iOS devices. As for VR, Apple's enthusiasm was clear during its WWDC keynote, with the company showing off the power of its new iMacs through a live demo of VR content creation using a HTC Vive, made possible via a new Metal 2 developer kit that has provisions for external GPUs and VR headsets.

Article Link: AR/VR Headset Shipments Forecast to Hit 100 Million Units By 2021, Buoyed By Apple, Microsoft, and Others
 

Hiran

macrumors newbie
Oct 5, 2015
21
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I get it when Apple say they are a software company. But they have an opportunity here.
 

StevieD100

macrumors 6502a
Jan 18, 2014
603
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Living Dangerously in Retirement
Where is the CEO of Occulus now? I don't think he commented on the latest releases from Apple yet last year, he was scathing about Apple. Perhaps this is just another case of Apple taking their time and doing it better than anyone thought they would?
I wonder if the 'naysayers' realise just how easy Apple have made this stuff? Probably not...
 

Floris

macrumors 68020
Sep 7, 2007
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Netherlands
We are already placing bets which youtuber is going to "pretend" to make a video where they pull the iMac off of the table for views.
 

Glassed Silver

macrumors 68020
Mar 10, 2007
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Where is the CEO of Occulus now? I don't think he commented on the latest releases from Apple yet last year, he was scathing about Apple. Perhaps this is just another case of Apple taking their time and doing it better than anyone thought they would?
I wonder if the 'naysayers' realise just how easy Apple have made this stuff? Probably not...
Apple just gave developers a Mac to develop with, most of their computers for home users remain unfit for VR afaik and that's what Ocolus were concerned about for the most part.

Other than the computer OEM and maybe the OS maker nobody gives a flying crap which platform you create your VR worlds in.

Glassed Silver:ios
 
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lwells1441

macrumors member
Jun 8, 2016
57
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I'm not sure that Apple can save the Vive. It's such a messy setup.

I predict VR will not really be adopted until the headset is wireless.
 
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lwells1441

macrumors member
Jun 8, 2016
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They also predicted windows phone would surpass iPhones.

VR/AR headsets may end up like 3D TVs, I wouldn't bet my money on them. Pokémon Go was cool for 2 weeks, and that's just an app that works on any phone.
I have no doubt in my mind that VR will be the future. I just don't think it is this generation of VR that will take us there.

It'll come back strong in 6-8 years after everybody is geeked about AR.
 

Jsameds

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Apr 22, 2008
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They also predicted windows phone would surpass iPhones.

VR/AR headsets may end up like 3D TVs, I wouldn't bet my money on them. Pokémon Go was cool for 2 weeks, and that's just an app that works on any phone.
VR has been going from strength to strength over the last few years, despite it being a very expensive hobby. It was recently announced that the PSVR - a device that costs more than the console itself that has been out only 7 months has already sold over a million units, and is showing no signs of slowing down.

The 3DTV you mention is a different beast. It made films slightly more immersive and struggled to succeed in the home due to the relatively small size of the TV's we have (compared to cinema/IMAX), resulting in a mediocre 3D effect. Whereas VR is an absolute game changer, playing a VR game is nothing like playing a game on a screen. It's a totally different and frankly mind blowing experience.

I believe VR will continue to stick around and become more popular as it gets cheaper over time, and wont ever replace, but will sit by the side of conventional TV based media.
 

lwells1441

macrumors member
Jun 8, 2016
57
34
I believe VR will continue to stick around and become more popular as it gets cheaper over time, and wont ever replace, but will sit by the side of conventional TV based media.
I will agree with this.

However, it can't grow it's consumer base until it gets cheaper. I don't think it'll get cheaper for quite some time.
 

mgmacius

macrumors member
Jan 16, 2008
45
93
I still remember how big VR was somewhere around the end of 90's. It was predicted to be THE NEXT BIG THING by so many! And guess what? It never happened! The product was terrible - most of the VR helmets of that day caused you to throw up in no time. We even had this contest, who will survive longer. The record? About 7-8 minutes...
And that was one of the best products on the market, then.
Anyway. Do we need it? Nope.
Does anyone like to wear these silly contraptions? NOPE!
Does anyone care enough to buy not only the helmet, but also upgrade their hardware? OF COURSE NOT!

I am not saying, that the idea is doomed, it's just it's a niche product. And it always will be.

BTW: remember Google Glass? Exactly!
 

Jsameds

Suspended
Apr 22, 2008
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How many of those headsets were $30 specials on amazon and were used once and then put in the unused pile of electronics?
I love VR but mobile VR as it stands is awful. Low app sizes means cruddy textures and assets in game, low phone capacities compared to console/PC means no games of decent length, no universal way to control games and no motion controllers to give your arms a presence, cheap headsets are uncomfortable, and dust on the screen is unavoidable since you use your phone.

All in all it's not an enjoyable experience. FYI I didn't even put mine in the used pile of electronics, I just threw it away.
 
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Bazooka-joe

macrumors 68040
Mar 12, 2012
3,144
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Swindon, England
I think people look very foolish wearing these large headsets.
VR Headsets for gaming are not the way forward because they are too restrictive. Motion tracking and 3d projectors with fisheye lenses that project images around the entire room including the floor and celling with you in the middle are the way forward and several companies including Microsoft are developing products.
Its a much simpler way than strapping a helmet to your head.
 

Dimwhit

macrumors 68000
Apr 10, 2007
1,981
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I may actually get a new iMac. I'm very happy that those Macs, and High Sierra, will support the Vive. I wonder how well, though. I was thinking of going with a Hackintosh, specifically so it would handle a Vive. But if an iMac will, I may just go that route.
 

robjulo

macrumors 65816
Jul 16, 2010
1,354
2,310
This hasn't been true in five years, yet people still parrot it. Maps, Siri, notifications, Apple pay etc, etc.

They really took their time when they released the MBP six months too early so they could cash in on the holiday season, rather than wait until the chips were ready.

Where is the CEO of Occulus now? I don't think he commented on the latest releases from Apple yet last year, he was scathing about Apple. Perhaps this is just another case of Apple taking their time and doing it better than anyone thought they would?
I wonder if the 'naysayers' realise just how easy Apple have made this stuff? Probably not...
 
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