In the long term Apple has revealed big plans for an unbelievable VR system to deliver a great experience in context with next-gen autonomous vehicles. In the short term Apple continues to work on AR and VR systems and recently acquired Akonia Holographics, inventors of advanced optical technologies based on Holography for AR Headsets and glasses. Apple is taking their time to deliver a great new iDevice for their global base of customers and we should appreciate that because the buzz for VR headsets is falling for lack of quality content and unique experiences.
According to a new IDC report takes a look at the state of the current VR market that is in sharp decline. They begin by noting that screen-less viewers brought a lot of attention to VR in the early days as the entire market was artificially propped up by brands like Samsung, Alcatel, and Google that bundled the headsets with smartphones. Screen-less viewers are those requiring a smartphone as the headset’s screen. However, since then, the screen-less viewer category has declined substantially, shrinking from 1 million headsets in 2Q17 to 409,000 in 2Q18. This category was the largest contributor to the decline in shipments for the overall VR headset market.
Tethered VR headsets declined 37.3% in 2Q18 largely because major brands like Oculus and Sony were unable to maintain the momentum established during a period of price reductions in 2Q17. As a result, the two brands managed to ship 102,000 and 93,000 headsets respectively in 2Q18. The category leader, HTC, shipped close to 111,000 headsets (excluding the standalone Vive Focus) thanks to the growing popularity of the Viveport subscription service as well as the launch of the Pro headset.
Standalone VR headsets grew 417.7% during the quarter, largely due to the global availability of the Oculus Go/Xiaomi Mi VR, which managed to ship 212,000 headsets.
While the consumer side of the VR headset market remains the focus of attention, the commercial side has seen pilots and large- scale deployments gaining traction. In 2Q18, roughly 20% of VR headsets were destined for the commercial sector, up from 14% in 2Q17. Along with the increase in share, average selling prices (ASPs) have also increased from $333 to $442 during the same period.
Jitesh Ubrani senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers: “One of the major issues with the VR market is that consumers still find it difficult to try a VR headset. This is where the commercial market has an opportunity to shine. HTC’s recent partnership with Dave & Busters and Oculus’ work with schools around the world stand to play an important role in educating and enticing consumers to use VR.”
Tom Mainelli, program vice president, Devices and Augmented and Virtual Reality at IDC: “In a market where mainstream VR content is still lacking, a growing number of vendors are looking to commercial as a way to build their business while they wait for the consumers to catch up. These vendors are moving beyond entertainment-focused B2C deployments to real-world training scenarios in companies of all sizes, all over the world. IDC expects commercial buyers to represent an increasingly important percentage of the market going forward.”
As we noted at the top of this report, Apple is working on both commercial and consumer side mixed reality applications as well as bringing AR experiences to the Mac. Apple is also working on document editing in a 3D space.
This is one of those market sectors where Apple is taking a holistic approach to by looking at applications beyond a headset. You could review more of Apple’s intellectual property on this subject to see some of what they’re working on here and here that covers smartglasses, special AR Mac displays, 8K foveated Micro-Displays for a heads-up display and an AR windshield. For Apple, MR (Mixed Reality) won’t be limited to a VR headset.
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