A “sobering” debut for VR

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I have no doubt that VR (and, lumped under that, AR) is going to play a big role in the future of technology, but like the arrival of smartphones, we still don’t realize how exactly they’ll impact us. Mid 2016 was full of hype about the thundering debut of VR, mainly due to the high expectations for PlayStation VR sales, but as the year nears its end, everyone is now revising their initial estimates downwards. Here is Chris Kerr from Gamasutra on the “sobering” debut VR has had thus far.

 Digging into the data, this year the VR market generated revenues of $2.7 billion. Focusing specifically on headset shipments, Google Cardboard led the way with 88.4 million units shipped.

Making up the top five were the Samsung Gear VR (2.3M units), PlayStation VR (745K units), HTC Vive (420K units), and the Oculus Rift (355K units).

“Now that the numbers are out and the industry realizes its still a long way from mass adoption, investors are looking toward the promise of enterprise applications, with HTC Vive being a lead evangelist for design, educational and medical applications,” reads the report. 

Enterprise tends to be a space for companies to retreat to when they’re unsure how to deal with consumer space. Look no further than Blackberry with their phones and HP/Dell with their notebook divisions, but hopefully this ends up being more of a short term diversion as VR matures. Interestingly enough, mobile took a very different route with mass consumer adoption first which eventually trickled into the corporate landscape.

As for PlayStation VR and its missed sales forecast, that’s mostly been according to plan (which I wrote about here) and shouldn’t be a cause for concern. In fact, compared to HTC and Oculus, Sony is best positioned with PSVR to capture consumers, thanks to its lower price point, branding prowess, and relationship with game developers. The biggest question for Sony and others now is how fast the technology will advance and if, with the changes ahead, they’ll be able to pivot and adapt. What VR/AR is today will surely look remarkably different 5 years from now and just because you lead today doesn’t guarantee you a market leading position in the future; just ask HTC with their smartphone efforts. Do you think VR will have a place for consumers or will it mainly become an enterprise-driven product?

  • AR – maybe, VR – yet another 3D. Mark this comment.