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01 Jun 2017

Worldwide Shipments of AR/VR Headsets Gain Momentum in the First Quarter with Strong Growth Forecast for the Rest of 2017, According to IDC

FRAMINGHAM, Mass., June 1, 2017 – Worldwide shipments of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) headsets continued to soar with a total of 2.3 million units shipped in the first quarter of 2017 (1Q17), according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Augmented and Virtual Reality Headset Tracker. With a long list of new products scheduled to ship in the second half of 2017, IDC is forecasting triple-digit growth for the full year.

VR represented the vast majority (more than 98%) of headsets shipped during the first quarter. Within VR, about two-thirds of all headset shipments were screenless viewers, such as Samsung's Gear VR and Google's Daydream View. Meanwhile, tethered VR headsets, such as the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Sony's PSVR, accounted for one third of the market.

"The VR market is still very young and consumers seem to be taking a cautious approach," said Jitesh Ubrani senior research analyst for IDC's Mobile Device Trackers. "With plenty of headset options already in the market and even more coming soon, hardware isn't the issue. The bigger challenge is the slow growth in content that appeals to a mass audience, combined with the confusion associated with a lack of cross-platform support."

AR headsets saw year-over-year shipment growth of 77.4% as new products began shipping and existing headsets expanded distribution to additional countries. "It's very early days in terms of augmented reality headsets, with the vast majority of products shipping into the market focused on getting hardware into the hands of developers," said Tom Mainelli, vice president of Devices and AR/VR at IDC. "Meanwhile, we expect most consumers to experience their first taste of augmented reality through the cameras and screens of their existing mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets."

Company Highlights

Samsung continued to drive the highest shipment volumes in the market with its Gear VR headset. Samsung's large distribution network and its partnership with Oculus has allowed the company to take the lead in the market. Though it was the only company in the top 5 to see an annual decline in shipments, IDC expects this to be temporary as the decline was largely tied to the absence of their flagship Note line of phones. The recently released Gear VR with Controller provides a welcome update to the headset and will likely bode well for Samsung moving forward.

Sony has only shipped its PlayStation VR headset for two quarters, but the company has already found its way into the top 5. Sony controls its entire VR ecosystem, including the headset, game console, and content. With a large installed base of PlayStation 4s and the support of AAA games, Sony will likely remain a leader in the near term.

With motion controllers and outside-in (room based) tracking right out of the box, the HTC Vive has provided a high-end solution for those willing to pay a premium for the best experience. Outside of the consumer market, HTC has enjoyed success in the commercial space as VR cafes have been popping up around the world, particularly in Asia. This success has also led the company to launch a commercial-friendly app store and subscription model, something other VR headset providers are trying to replicate.

Facebook was among the first premium products in the market with the Oculus Rift, though in recent months the company has faced a few hiccups in terms of retail space. However, with the addition of touch controllers, improved room-scale tracking, and a price drop from $599 to $499, IDC believes Oculus will continue to provide a compelling alternative for VR enthusiasts.

TCL rounded out the top five with the Alcatel VR headset that it bundles with Alcatel Idol 4/s smartphones. Despite notable shipment volumes, the company faces challenges due to a limited platform that largely relies on existing Cardboard apps and Littlstar (a third-party VR video company) to provide apps, games, and videos for their headset. Without control over the content and with limited distribution and compatibility, TCL/Alcatel's VR ambitions will likely face an uphill battle in the coming quarters.

Top 5 Worldwide AR and VR Headset Companies, Shipments and Market Share, Q1 2017 (shipments in thousands)

Company

1Q17 Shipments

1Q17 Market Share

1. Samsung

489.5

21.5%

2. Sony

429.0

18.8%

3. HTC

190.9

8.4%

4. Facebook

99.3

4.4%

5. TCL

91.3

4.0%

Others

980.0

43.0%

Total

2280.0

100.0%

Source: IDC Worldwide AR/VR Headset Tracker, June 1, 2017

Table Notes:

  • The table represents shipments of Augmented Reality and Virtual 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.



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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.

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Contact
For more information, contact:

Michael Shirer
press@idc.com
508-935-4200

Jitesh Ubrani
jubrani@idc.com
416-673-2214

Tom Mainelli
tmainelli@idc.com
650-350-6455