Digital Transformation

VR and AR sales are dying, but the enterprise could bring them back to life

The augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) headset industry is fluctuating. Here's why.

Worldwide shipments of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) headsets have decreased 30.5% year over year, according to the International Data Corporation ( IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Augmented and Virtual Reality Headset Tracker. This data seems contradictory to the buzz AR and VR have created in the business world, with a supposed growth in demand and popularity.

The decline in shipments can mostly be attributed to the unbundling of VR headsets in quarter 1 of 2018, IDC noted in a press release on Tuesday. In 2017, vendors would bundle free headsets with the purchase of top-tier smartphones; however, this trend came to an end as the year wound down.

SEE: Augmented reality gaining more traction than virtual reality in the enterprise (Tech Pro Research)

However, the decline isn't anticipated to last too long. Despite the decrease in 2018 shipments, IDC predicts the AR/VR market to regain its popularity as the year continues. With vendors targeting commercial AR and VR markets, as well as low-cost standalone VR headsets like Oculus Go, the industry is to grow by 6%, said the press release.

AR and VR are already seeing commercial growth in enterprises. Both technologies prove useful for architecture, prototyping products, task itemization, and training for dangerous jobs. In fact, WalMart and UPS already started VR training initiatives, helping employees learn how to make deliveries quickly and safely.

If CXOs want to get ahead on the trend, check out TechRepublic's article on VR and AR in the enterprise.

As for the AR market, IDC predicts these headsets grow again with popular screenless viewing technology. Non-smartphone AR headset shipments are also expected to see triple-digit growth by 2019 as more commercial brands launch new products, said the press release.

"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," said IDC devices and augmented and virtual reality vice president Tom Mainelli in the release. "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."

The big takeaways for tech leaders:
  • Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) headset shipments decreased by 30.5% in 2018, according to IDC.
  • The shipment numbers decreased because of companies unbundling headsets with the purchase of a smartphone, but the numbers are predicted to increase as commercial headsets regain traction.

Also see

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Image: iStockphoto/gorodenkoff

About Macy Bayern

Macy Bayern is an Associate Staff Writer for TechRepublic. A recent graduate from the University of Texas at Austin's Liberal Arts Honors Program, Macy covers tech news and trends.

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