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VR Moves from the Pocket to the PC and Console While AR Prepares for Long-Term Growth, According to IDC

Worldwide proliferation of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) headsets is expected to continue as shipments reach 59.2 million in 2021, up from 9.6 million in 2017, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Augmented and Virtual Reality Headset Tracker.

To date, the entire market has been propped up by low-cost VR screenless viewers such as the Samsung Gear VR. However, IDC anticipates this category will lose share as previous champions of the category scale back on their smartphone plus headset bundles and shift focus toward tethered and standalone solutions. VR screenless viewers will account for 14.8% of the entire market in 2021, down from 58.8% in 2017. Over the course of the next few years, tethered headsets from the likes of Sony or Meta will account for the majority of shipments and in 2021 standalone headsets like the Oculus Go or Hololens will take center stage and account for almost half of the AR/VR headset market.

“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.”

Traction for VR tethered and standalone VR headsets will not be limited to the consumer market as commercial shipments for these headsets will climb from 1 million in 2017 to 12.6 million by the end of 2021. Meanwhile, augmented reality headsets are on track to have a significantly larger impact in the commerical segment as shipments grow to 15.6 million in the same time period.

“We have long believed that AR headsets will play a fundamental role in changing the way many companies do business in the near future and we are increasingly seeing the commercial use cases for VR unfold,” 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. AR will change all that. And within VR, the commercial use cases that are emerging the fastest are within education, design/content creation, and retail, and we have strong reason to believe this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

vr forecast

Table Notes:

* The table represents forecast shipments of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality headsets only. Any additional software, services, or compute devices (e.g. PC, game console, smartphone, etc.) are excluded.

  • Shipments of simplistic headsets that do not have any technology built in are excluded. Examples of such headsets include Google Cardboard and other Cardboard-like devices.

In addition to the table above, a graphic illustrating worldwide shipments for AR and VR headsets over the 2017-2021 forecast period is available by viewing this press release on IDC.com.

About IDC Trackers
IDC Tracker products provide accurate and timely market size, company share, and forecasts for hundreds of technology markets from more than 100 countries around the globe. Using proprietary tools and research processes, IDC’s Trackers are updated on a semiannual, quarterly, and monthly basis. Tracker results are delivered to clients in user-friendly excel deliverables and on-line query tools.

For more information about IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, please contact Kathy Nagamine at 650-350-6423 or knagamine@idc.com.

About IDC
International Data Corporation (IDC) is the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets. With more than 1,100 analysts worldwide, IDC offers global, regional, and local expertise on technology and industry opportunities and trends in over 110 countries. IDC’s analysis and insight helps IT professionals, business executives, and the investment community to make fact-based technology decisions and to achieve their key business objectives. Founded in 1964, IDC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of International Data Group (IDG), the world’s leading media, data and marketing services company that activates and engages the most influential technology buyers. To learn more about IDC, please visit www.idc.com. Follow IDC on Twitter at @IDC and LinkedIn.

All product and company names may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.


Jitesh Ubrani, 416-873-0315
Tom Mainelli, 650-350-6455
Michael Shirer, 508-935-4200

Author: VR Reporter

I am a hi-tech enthusiast, VR evangelist, and a Co-founder & Chief Director at Virtual Reality Reporter!

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