Virtual reality is certainly the flavor of the season, and even though the technology hasn't yet gathered as much steam as many stakeholders would have hoped for, the launch of at least three high-profile VR headsets from three leading tech companies this year has certainly added some much-needed momentum to the industry. Now, a report published by market research and analysis firm Canalys is claiming that the sector is likely to experience explosive growth over the next few years. According to the report, cumulative global sales of VR headsets are only likely to hover around the 2 million mark this year, although by 2020, as many as 20 million such devices are likely to be shipped on a yearly basis.
However, even as the industry is said to be poised for exponential growth in the coming years, only around 100,000 units shipped this year are expected to be smart VR headsets that can function independently, while the vast majority are said to be basic devices that need to be hooked up to a PC or a gaming console for full functionality. The report also points out that out of the 2 million-odd VR headsets that are likely to be shipped worldwide this year, Sony's PlayStation VR is the current market leader with over 800,000 shipments in less than three months on the market, thanks largely to the wild popularity of the PlayStation 4 gaming console that was launched way back in 2013.
Meanwhile, the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift have also been doing brisk business if the report is anything to go by. The Vive is apparently the second-most popular VR headset on the market today, with the Taiwanese firm expected to ship around half a million units of its virtual reality offering in 2016. As for the Oculus Rift, the device is likely to hit the 400,000 mark this year, thereby coming in at number three in what has essentially been a three-horse race for the most part, with Google's newly-launched mobile VR platform, Daydream, yet to gain any significant traction at the retail level. The industry is likely to carry on its growth story in the coming months and years, but it remains to be seen if it will ever become as big and as lucrative as the smartphone industry.