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Virtual and augmented reality markets poised to grow six-fold by 2021: Research

Martin Kovacs /

The combined market for virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) headsets will grow almost six-fold through to 2021, according to a forecast from the International Data Corporation (IDC).

According to data from the IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Augmented and Virtual Reality Headset Tracker, published during 2017, the combined market for VR and AR headsets would reach 13.7 million units in 2017, and grow to 81.2 million units by 2021.

While VR headsets will dominate the market in the short term, the IDC predicts AR is “poised for long-term growth along with a profound impact on the way businesses and consumers compute”.

“AR headset shipments today are a fraction of where we expect them to be in the next five years, both in terms of volume and functionality,” said Jitesh Ubrani, IDC Mobile Device Trackers senior research analyst.

“AR headsets are also on track to account for over [US]$30 billion in revenue by 2021, almost twice that of VR, as most of the AR headsets will carry much higher average selling prices, with earlier adopters being the commercial segment.

“Meanwhile, most consumers will experience AR on mobile devices, although it’s only a matter of time before Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore-enabled apps make their way into consumer-grade headsets.”

IDC predicts VR will account for more than 90% of the market until 2019, with AR poised for exponential growth in the final two years of the forecast, capturing a quarter of the market by 2021.

The commercial sector will make up the majority of the AR market (71.1% in 2017 and 82.5% in 2021), however, it would comprise just 21.8% of the VR market in 2017 and 27.8% in 2021.

“Virtual reality has suffered from some unrealistic growth expectations in 2017, but overall the market is still growing at a reasonable rate and new products from Microsoft and its partners should help drive additional interest in the final quarter of [2017],” Tom Mainelli, IDC Devices and AR/VR vice president, commented.

“As we head into 2018 we’ll see additional new products appearing, including standalone headsets from major players, and we expect to see a growing number of companies embracing the technology to enable new business processes and training opportunities.”

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Martin Kovacs

Martin Kovacs is a journalist with experience covering the IT, consumer electronics, retail, finance and energy sectors.

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