IDC’s Data Shows VR is Not Dying, Not Even Close

by Anshel Sag • June 7th, 2017

VR is not dead. VR is not dying. VR is very much alive according to IDC’s numbers.

Apple’s WWDC 2017 keynote made that abundantly clear with their announcement of support for external Metal graphics, HTC Vive, SteamVR and Metal VR. The VR market is only starting and now that all the biggest players in the tech space are engaged including Apple we can consider it a complete market.

IDC started to collect market share data for VR and AR shipments since Q1 2016 and just reported their Q1 numbers for 2017. While the Q1 numbers are significantly lower than Q4’s numbers, Q1 is seasonally weaker than Q4. For Q1 IDC reported 2,241,000 headsets being sold, that is lower than the 3,825,500 headsets sold in Q4 of 2016. However, compared to Q1 of 2016, it is a 69% increase from 1,321,300 units to 2,241,600.

In terms of market share, Samsung leads the charge with Gear VR with 489,500 Gear VR shipments which translates to a market share of 21.5%. I would expect this number to grow significantly as the Galaxy S8 launched in Q2 and many of the devices purchased at launch will come bundled with a Gear VR headset.

Not far behind Samsung is Sony with 429,000 units shipped in Q1 which represents a market share of 18.8%. Sony’s market share numbers are impressive because the headset is $399, about four times as expensive as the Gear VR headset that is bundled with Samsung’s phones. While it will be hard to see what Q2 numbers will be like compared to last year, I expect that Q3 and Q4 numbers will be strong thanks to Sony’s expected E3 announcements for PSVR. Sony is struggling to keep up with demand, which is a good thing for the market overall, and hopefully this trend will continue through the year.

In 3rd place after Samsung and Sony was HTC with the HTC Vive. The HTC Vive shipped a surprising 190,000 units in Q1 2017 which is higher than many would have expected, in the slowest consumer quarter of the year and the fourth full quarter of sales for the VR headset. These numbers put the HTC Vive solidly head of the Oculus Rift in terms of PC VR headset shipments, with over 600,000 HTC Vive units shipped in the first year of the Vive’s existence when combined with SuperData’s 2016 numbers. While we don’t have complete PC market share numbers at this point, it’s fair to say that HTC without a doubt has the majority. Among all headsets, the HTC Vive shipments of 190,000 units translates to 8.4% market share. All of this while HTC has, with a few short sale exceptions, kept the price of the headset at the launch price of $799 the whole year.

In a distant 4th place was Facebook’s Oculus Rift headset with shipments of under 100,000 units, or 99,300 units and a market share of 4.4%. Even though this represents lower shipments than the competition, it still represents growth with only 240,000 units being shipped in the previous 3 quarters of the Oculus Rift being available. This would put the Oculus Rift at around 340,000 units shipped globally for Facebook’s Oculus. Being able to accelerate shipments in Q1 a traditionally slower consumer quarter would likely indicate increased interest in VR and the Oculus Rift. One main reason for the Rift’s shipment increases could be because Oculus introduced their Touch controllers at the end of Q4 that allowed for full immersion in VR. I expect that we will see Q2 shipments accelerate with the announcement of a bundle and aggressive pricing where the headset alone now only costs $499 and the bundle for headset and controllers is $599.

If you count the full year of HTC Vive and Rift sales, the two platforms have shipped around 1 million units. For the market as IDC defines it, there were 10 million headsets shipped during the same period that the HTC Vive and Facebook’s Oculus Rift have shipped. However, if you look at how IDC’s latest quarter tracked the data, 43% of VR and AR headset shipments were not represented by the top 5 players, Samsung, Sony, HTC, Facebook or TCL. None of these numbers really consider the expected uptake of standalone VR headsets which are expected to ship in volumes from companies like Google and HTC later this year. However, those numbers are expected to probably fall within ‘other’ or slightly boost certain companies’ VR shipments like HTC. These numbers don’t consider Apple’s involvement in AR and VR announced at WWDC 2017 which should further accelerate the growth of both headset sales and content creation. The Q1 2017 numbers are indicating that the VR and AR markets are quite healthy and that VR may not be growing at a breakneck pace, but it is growing healthily and steadily for a new market.

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  • Mike DiCerto

    Why are so many video game writers desperate to predict the end of VR??? It is not going anywhere but up, up, up. What is wrong with you people? Trying too hard to be cynical hip.

    • RationalThought

      It has been like this since the dawn of time.

      Round earth …..hmph….its flat
      Cars….hmph…fad.
      TV….hmph….radio is king.
      Smart phones…..Hmph…..never be a thing.
      Most major advances in tech have a ridiculously loud opposition group for some reason that are just extremely adverse to change and new paradigm’s.
      The future is VR/AR without question. Will it be big headsets or these clunky glasses??? Most likely not. Iphone’s aren’t those huge phones from Miami Vice and 80’s movies either. The tech is a paradigm shift people will just have to adjust to.

      • Robbie Cartwright

        Totally agree there Thought.

    • NooYawker

      People keep comparing it to 3D without knowing what the hell theyre talkig about.

      • Caven

        Don’t forget the even worse comparisons to Kinect and Wii styled motion controls.

      • yag

        All these bad comparisons will fade away, like 3DTV and Kinect 😉

  • Steve Hirjak

    I remember when it was big news when home game consoles broke a million units back in the 80’s!

  • Onyx Blue

    190,000 units- in one quarter! Amazing. This now places VIVE install base at approximately 700,000! 😀.

    The party is just getting warmed up. Ah if only people knew what is coming.

    • Shawn Blais Skinner

      Worth noting that these are just estimates. If 190,000 VIVE’s were sold in Q1 2017, we certainly didn’t see it in our sales figures on Steam, so I’m a bit doubtful.

      • Jim Cherry

        idc is always right dont you remember how they predicted windows phone would beat out the iphone back in 2012 ;}

      • Onyx Blue

        our? and whose sales figures ?

      • Onyx Blue

        they not estimates- they are approximates

        • Shawn Blais Skinner

          Tomato Tomahto

          • Onyx Blue

            estimate is a prediction. Approximates are a rounding off of data. There is a very big difference.
            One is using available data- the other is predicting.

            No one is “predicting” that is how many sold. They are reporting that is how many sold- and rounding it off to the nearest approximate.

          • Shawn Blais Skinner

            Sure thing. Except that there is no available data, and even if there were that would be extrapolation, not aproximation, or ’rounding off’. But there is no data from any of the manufacturers, this is just a guess, and IDC is frequently way off the mark.

      • Onyx Blue

        VR is bigger than any person here can wrap their head around. If you think these early days say anything- you are misguided. People did not understand the Internet in 1993. VR in the next decade is larger than any technology that has come before it.

        So early into it- that it is just lost on people- they do not have enough vision to foresee where it is heading! LOOK closer next time you use your VIVE

  • NooYawker

    There’s a lull right now because the initial excitement is over and the only content is the same o same o. Fallout 4 And Doom VR will light a fire. Still a long way from a fully AAA VR game but I’m more than happy to play existing AAA games converted to VR.

    • Duane Locsin

      It’s still early days still being VR’s first year but it’s definitely growing, however it’s not like the 90’s because there is so much tech this generation alongside VR.

      -AR
      -4-8k hdr curved panels
      -air driven home assistants – Alexa, Echo and Siri homepod
      -eGPU, thin desktop class laptops, hybrid tablet/laptops
      -Drones and FPV headsets

      • Jim Cherry

        you forgot variable refresh monitors
        and rgb lighting on everything

  • Duane Locsin

    I’m covered on the mobile and console front with Gear VR and PSVR (big fan of VR obviously), and plan on getting the Vive this year, I just want to make sure I don’t get the Vive+Audiodelux strap+tp cast and find out 3 months later a new Vive is out and it’s accessories , and they completely incompatible with the one I just bought.

    Example the new light houses.

  • Andre Citroen

    In Q4 2016 there were more sales than in Q1 2017, because of the Holidays (Christmas).
    December was a bump in search and sales, which is not comparable to any other month in the whole year!