New data suggests Q2, 2018 was not great for the virtual reality (VR) headset market due to a slump in shipments. In spite of this, the International Data Corporation (IDC) suggests this is more of a temporary issue than an actual sign of the times, with the expectation shipments will recover in due course.
According to the data, second-quarter worldwide VR headset shipments were down 33.7-percent in 2018, compared to the year before. While a drop of this magnitude would typically be alarming for any industry, the IDC suggests the previous year's figures were artificially inflated and therefore not representative of the actual market in general. With the IDC attributing much of the 2017 inflation to the likes of Alcatel, Google and Samsung and their bundling of headsets with smartphones. For example, shipments of these "screenless viewers" were recorded at 409,000 in Q2, 2018 which compares with almost one million during the second quarter of 2017. Another reason suggested for the fall in shipments during the second quarter was the inability of tethered VR headsets brands "to maintain the momentum established during a period of price reductions in 2Q17." With the figures showing the tethered market declining by 37.3-percent year-over-year. Delving into the numbers, HTC continues to lead the market with 111,000 headset shipments, compared to 102,000 for Oculus and 93,000 for Sony.
On the positive side, standalone VR headsets are shaping up to be a massive addition to the market with the IDC noting year-over-year growth of 417.7-percent for the second-quarter of 2018. Of course, most standalone VR headsets were not available during the same quarter of last year and therefore much like the issue noted with the artificial inflation it's unlikely the same level of growth momentum will continue. Although the early indications do certainly suggest standalone VR headsets are going to play a pivotal role going forward with the data specifically highlighting Oculus Go and Xiaomi Mi VR as two of the products that spearheaded sector growth during the quarter. Regardless of whether the quarterly shipments were up or down, the IDC reiterated the industry's major problem still exists – accessibility. With brands still needing to find additional ways in which consumers can first-hand experience what VR has to offer.