Global shipments of augmented and virtual reality headsets were down 30.5% year-over-year in the first quarter of 2018, totalling 1.2 million shipments across the quarter, according to analyst firm IDC.
This is despite IDC saying in March that shipments of AR/VR headsets would "pick up" this year to 12.4 million units, or a 48% year-on-year increase. As per this latest first-quarter 2018 news, IDC has now adjusted its expectations, saying it expects 8.4 million headsets to be shipped, a rise of 6% year-over-year. (See AR/VR Headset Sales Will Rebound in 2018 – IDC.)
The Oculus Go is a standalone VR headset, which does not need a phone or computer to use. (Image: Marc Mueller, Unsplash)
It also stands against the research done by CCS just this month, which says it expects 22 million AR/VR devices to be sold in 2018 alone. However, this includes 'VR and AR accessories' and not just VR/AR headsets as IDC's findings does. (See 22 Million VR/AR Devices to be Sold in 2018, Predicts CCS.)
There is hope on the virtual horizon though: IDC has forecast the AR/VR headset market to grow to 65.9 million units by 2022: substantially less than CCS's 121 million units.
Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers, said: "On the VR front, devices such as the Oculus Go seem promising not because Facebook has solved all the issues surrounding VR, but rather because they are helping to set customer expectations for VR headsets in the future."
He continued: "Looking ahead, consumers can expect easier-to-use devices at lower price points. Combine that with a growing lineup of content from game makers, Hollywood studios, and even vocational training institutions, and we see a brighter future for the adoption of virtual reality."
Regarding augmented reality, which is currently seen by much of the mainstream public as VR's poorer relation, Tom Mainelli, program vice president of Devices and Augmented and Virtual Reality at IDC, commented: "Momentum around augmented reality continues to grow as more companies enter the space and begin the work necessary to create the software and services that will drive AR hardware. Industry watchers are eager to see new headsets ship from the likes of Magic Leap, Microsoft, and others. But for those devices to fulfill their promise we need developers creating the next-generation of applications that will drive new experiences on both the consumer and commercial sides of the market."