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AR/VR Headset Market Up 27.2%

The global augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) headset market returned to growth after a year of decline, up 27 per cent from the same quarter last year, according to an IDC report.

The IDC says a surge in global shipments during the first quarter of 2019 – reaching 1.3 million units – as the catalyst for this growth.

According to the report, the surge in shipments of standalone head-mounted displays (HMDs) and tethered HMDs has helped to offset the decline in the low-end, screenless viewer segment.

VR headsets represented 96.6 per cent of the combined AR/VR market during the quarter, with the top five vendors capturing 65.1 per cent of the total VR headset market.

“Facebook has promised to bring VR to the masses, and it took its latest steps toward realising this vision with new standalone and tethered headset releases during the quarter,” said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC’s Mobile Device Trackers.

“The company’s new US$399 standalone Oculus Quest began shipping this quarter and has enjoyed positive reviews, and its new Rift S offers an updated take on its pioneering tethered headset.

“These products, along with other new offerings from companies such as HTC and Valve, should position the VR market for solid growth through the rest of the year.”

The report says that while AR market volumes remain low, there is clear momentum in this space too.

“Enterprise AR is evolving quickly, and many companies are actively looking for hardware solutions they can use to improve existing business processes and drive new ones,” said Tom Mainelli, group vice-president, Consumer and Devices Research at IDC.

“Vendors shipping robust, ready-to-use products today are seeing increased traction and we expect their volumes to increase notably through the rest of the year.

“We have also seen new product announcements from players large and small that should help drive increased momentum and shipments when these products begin shipping later this year.”

IDC anticipates the growth trend established in the first quarter will continue as global shipments for AR/VR headsets are forecast to reach 7.6 million units in 2019, up from 5.9 million in 2018.

Much of this growth will occur in the commercial segment, which will consume roughly one of every three headsets shipped in 2019.

IDC expects standalone and tethered headsets to drive the VR market growth.

The report predicts that standalone VR will capture 38.2 per cent of the market in 2019, up from 26.6 per cent in 2019, while tethered VR will have a share of 16.1 per cent this year, compared to 44.1 per cent last year.

On the flip side, the report says that screenless viewers will decline to 15.7 per cent, down from 29.3 per cent last year.

IDC expects standalone will play an even larger role in AR for 2019, capturing 53.9 per cent of the market – up from 47.8 per cent in 2018, while tethered and screenless viewers will capture 27 per cent and 19.1 per cent in 2019 respectively.

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