VR hardware sales predicted to soar past $2 billion by end of year

Oculus Rift

There's been an inordinate amount of attention placed on VR this year, and that's due in large part to the much anticipated releases of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. While neither outfit has revealed specific sales figures, market research firm IDC reckons that as a whole, VR hardware "will skyrocket in 2016."

Led by Samsung, Sony, HTC, and Oculus, IDC expects total volumes of VR hardware to reach 9.6 million units by the end of the year while generating a whopping $2.6 billion. Those are staggering figures considering that VR is still very much in its infancy at this point.

That kind of rapid growth could have a snowball effect, with game developers and content creators taking notice of and catering to a suddenly large install base.

"In 2016, the first major VR Tethered HMDs [head-mounted displays] from Oculus, HTC, and Sony should drive combined shipments of over 2 million units," said Tom Mainelli, vice president for devices and displays at IDC. "When you combine this with robust shipments of screenless viewers from Samsung and other vendors launching later this year, you start to see the beginning of a reasonable installed base for content creators to target."

"Video games will clearly be the lead rationale for people to pick up an Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, or PlayStation VR this year," added Lewis Ward, research director of gaming at IDC. "While there have been some launch window hardware shipment hiccups that must be addressed near-term, I'm confident that they will be ironed out before the holiday season. The addition of exciting new titles will lead to a new wave of VR HMD hardware interest among those buying for themselves or family members and friends."

In other words, all these early hardware sales will prompt game developers to create some interesting content, which in turn will lead to even more hardware sales. That's how IDC sees it playing out, anyway.

By the year 2020, IDC predicts VR hardware will tally 64.8 shipments. On top of that, IDC says AR (augmented reality) hardware like Microsoft's HoloLens will be a force by then as well, adding another 45.6 million units to the pile.

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