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AR and VR headsets return to growth

Sales of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) headsets saw an upturn in Q1 2019, following a year of decline.

According to IDC, shipments of the headsets reached 1.3 million, up 27.2% from the same quarter last year. 

This growth is thanks to a surge in shipments of standalone head-mounted displays (HMDs) and tethered HMDs that helped to offset the decline in the low-end, screenless viewer segment. 

VR headsets headsets represented 96.6% of the combined AR/VR market during the quarter with strong volumes from top companies such as Sony, Facebook, HTC, Pico, and 3Glasses. The top five vendors captured 65.1% of the total VR headset market.

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

“The company’s new $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 AR market has been slow to grow, but the report points out that there is momentum from headset makers such as Epson, Lenovo, Vuzix, Google and RealWear.

“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 this 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.”

The research firm predicts this growth to continue, with global shipments for AR/VR headsets forecast to reach 7.6 million units in 2019, up from 5.9 million in 2018. The commercial segment will make up roughly a third of this.

The report also suggests that standalone and tethered headsets will drive the VR market growth. Standalone VR headsets will capture 38.2 % of the VR market in 2019, up from 26.6% in 2018. Tethered VR headsets will have a share of 46.1% this year, versus 44.1% last year. 

Finally, screenless viewers will decline to 15.7%, down from 29.3% last year.

Tags: AR, IDC, VR