This year has become known as "the year of virtual reality" mostly due to the fact that two of the most anticipated VR headsets – the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift – launched recently. However, although the concept of VR is not new, VR consumer products are somewhat of a new sight and needless to say, the VR market is very much in its infancy. What will the future hold for virtual reality in the coming years? It's difficult to be sure of anything at this point, but HTC is apparently very confident in VR and believes that virtual reality could outpace the smartphone market in the next four years.
HTC has become one of the biggest players in the virtual reality game. The company has developed and released the HTC Vive headset in collaboration with Steam, becoming one of the first companies in the world to launch what seems to be a commercially viable VR device. However, as is the case with the majority of new products targeting unexplored markets, it might be too early to predict whether virtual reality is here to change the way we experience digital content, or if it will end up as just another novelty similar to 3D displays and goggles. For now, there seems to be a lot of hype surrounding the virtual reality market – and for good reason – but the future is still uncertain. Nevertheless, the head of HTC Vive in China, Wang Tsung-ching, recently shared his view on the matter, claiming that virtual reality has the potential to outpace the smartphone market within the next four years.
Four years seems to be a sensible, or large-enough timeframe for predicting the increasing popularity of a new product. However at the present, the smartphone market is extremely populated, and it's worth noting that smart mobile devices needed roughly five years of market exposure in order to outsell personal computers. Then again, smartphones are practically pocket PCs and they are used by a wide variety of consumers for numerous purposes, whereas virtual reality is more of a niche market, with the high-end segment being covered by consumers who own very powerful computers. But at the end of the day, although today's premium VR headsets – including the HTC Vive – cost roughly as much as a premium smartphone, prices might drop considerably in the next few years, and this could give prospective customers enough confidence to adopt a VR headset and contribute to market growth. Will it be enough to outmatch smartphone sales? Only time will tell.