Yay, growth! Research firm CCS Insight forecasts 22 million VR and AR headsets and glasses will be sold in 2018, with five times the growth to 121 million units by 2022.

Meanwhile, smartphone VR will account for the bulk of the sales volume, though keep an eye out for dedicated VR devices, which will account for 63 percent of the total market value of $9.9 billion in 2022 according to the company. It also seems that AR smart glasses for consumers have encouraging potential, particularly if a large consumer electronics firm such as Apple decides to enter the market.

George Jijiashvili, CCS Insight’s senior analyst for wearables, comments, “Virtual reality headsets have been the main source of growth in unit sales to date, and we expect this will continue, particularly headsets that use a smartphone. However, we expect stand-alone headsets like the Oculus Go and HTC Vive Focus to ignite a new wave of growth that will help broaden the appeal of virtual reality, particularly with businesses and in education”.

Gaming remains the primary reason for sales of VR devices and this is unlikely to change over the next few years. CCS Insight’s consumer research shows that nearly 70 percent of customers who own a dedicated VR headset such as an Oculus Rift, HTC Vive or Sony PlayStation VR have bought games for it, and more than half of smartphone VR headset owners have bought games for their device.

AR smart glasses also feature prominently in CCS Insight’s forecast. As Jijiashvili states, “Given augmented reality is one of the hottest new technology areas in smartphones, it’s not surprising that interest is mounting in augmented reality glasses. Billions of dollars are being invested in this technology and we’ve seen significant improvements in the size, weight and design of smart glasses over the past 12 months”.

However, CCS Insight’s forecast signals disappointingly low adoption of smart glasses to date, particularly among businesses. CCS Insight estimates that just 24,000 AR smart glasses were purchased by business in 2017. Jijiashvili comments, “The potential of this technology is clear, but so far most companies are evaluating a few units to see how the technology fits into their operations”.

CCS Insight’s latest forecast reflects the positive outlook for consumer smart glasses, with sales volume of 4.5 million units predicted in 2022.

Tom Ffiske
Twitter: @TomFfiske
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