VR Headsets Fail to Compete With Smartphones Despite Strong Growth

VR technology was little more than a novelty a decade ago, so it was strange to see a company as big as Facebook acquiring a VR headset company called Oculus. However, VR headsets and the like are some of the most widely discussed new tech products on the market, and it is projected that around 16.5 million units of this product will get shipped out by the end of this year with all things having been considered and taken into account.

That is an increase of over 5 million units, and an even more astounding way to look at it is that these sales have gone up by around 32.1%. That is a tremendous rate of growth that any other industry would be envious of, but in spite of the fact that this is the case these headsets still aren’t competitive when compared to smartphones. To put this into context, there were around 1.3 billion smartphones sold last year, which is intriguing because VR headsets need smartphones to be functional.

With all of that having been said and now out of the way, it is important to note that only a tiny fraction of smartphone buyers are also buying a VR headset. What’s more is that apps like Snapchat and TikTok are offering a lot of the AR that users need, so this is a segment of the market that VR headsets are directly competing with smartphones for. These statistics suggest that they are not comparable despite the excellent growth they have shown so far.

Much of this growth can be attributed to how new these products still are, because of the fact that this is the sort of thing that could potentially end up giving users something unique to try out. However, predictions suggest that VR headsets might see some stellar growth in the commercial sector because they can help with blueprint visualization and other such things. That still only means that total VR headset shipments will come up to a little over 50 million by 2026, which is not a rapid enough growth rate to suggest that they would become a core product for people to own.

The bulky and cumbersome nature of these headsets coupled with their dependence on smartphones and WiFi means that they are not optimized nor are they convenient. Until these issues are addressed, it seem pretty likely that VR headsets will go the route of other tech related wearables even though they are targeting a different market entirely. This is not the first time that a product with a lot of buzz fails to meet expectations, and it probably won’t be the last.

H/T: IDC / II.

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