A new report issued by research firm IDC forecasts that 2018 will see worldwide shipments for Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) headsets rebound after a disappointing 2017. Specifically, this year is set to see 12.4 million units of the two "reality" variants head to retailers, which will be a 48.5-percent year-over-year increase. New vendor channels, new use cases, and new business models were all cited as cause for the craze. IDC is also predicting that in 2022, AR and VR headset shipments will grow to 68.9 million units, with a five-year compound annual growth rate of 52.5-percent. While last year saw poor results in this field, the late-2017 success of Star Wars: Jedi Challenges from Lenovo as well as the upcoming releases of products such as Windows Mixed Reality VR units, Facebook's Oculus Go, HTC's Vive Pro and others are anticipated to pick up the slack, and then some.
IDC Senior Research Analyst, Jitesh Ubrani, said that "There has been a maturation of content and delivery as top-tier content providers enter the AR and VR space…Meanwhile, on the hardware side, numerous vendors are experimenting with new financing options and different revenue models to make the headsets, along with the accompanying hardware and software, more accessible to consumers and enterprises alike."
Virtual Reality itself has been a pipe dream of the IT industry for decades now, with all manner of movies and media making mention of it during the 90's, including the Stephen King-based film, The Lawnmower Man, the television program VR-5, and of course Nintendo's ill-fated contraption, the Virtual Boy, which tried to capitalize on the marketing hype surrounding VR to sell a stereoscopic headset that was neither successful nor able to provide an immersive experience. Recent years have seen the melding of significant hardware advancements and renewed interest from companies like Facebook, Samsung, Google, Sony, HTC, and Valve, but none have yet managed to find mainstream success. Magic Leap is another future consideration although the company has been frequently accused with overpromising and overstating what its still-prototype hardware actually is. While the technology is more-or-less finally ready for AR and VR, the real trick is getting consumers to crave it.