Before we dive into the numbers provided by industry analysis firm IHS Markit, let me be clear that all VR market analysis and projections we’ve seen are big guesses. The manufacturers have released only limited data points — with Samsung coming out with the largest number to date revealing the technology giant sold 5 million Gear VRs through the beginning of the year. To our knowledge, Google has released nothing to officially give any indication of Daydream’s performance in the market since it went on sale late last year.
Nevertheless, IHS Markit is forecasting sales for both Daydream from Google and Gear VR from Samsung, the latter of which is powered by software from Facebook’s Oculus. The firm projects the overall mobile VR king this year will be Samsung approaching 10 million units total. The actual numbers supplied by IHS Markit estimate Samsung will sell 4.12 million of the headsets this year, down 9.6 percent from 4.56 million last year. The Gear VR initially went on sale as a glorified developer kit in late 2014 — so if you combine 5 million sold through Jan. 4 with 4.12 million in 2017 Samsung could close in on 10 million mobile VR headsets moving into 2018.
“In 2016, Samsung used its Gear VR headset as a powerful marketing tool to promote sales of its Galaxy S7 smartphone and implemented appropriate pre-order bundling strategies across many sales territories,” analysis from IHS Markit states. “In 2017, Samsung has taken a more targeted approach retaining the offer for the launch of the Galaxy S8 in USA and Australia, but dropping it in a number of European territories.”
The estimates also take a stab at Google-built Daydream View sales, estimating 120,000 of the headsets sold in 2016 ballooning to 2.23 million in 2017. It’ll be boosted by “third-party smartphone vendors in the second half of 2017,” according to the analysis. UPDATE: IHS Markit said these estimates are “based on our view of Google Pixel sales at the end of 2016, Daydream View penetration of that user base, indicators such as download rates for Daydream titles and industry feedback.”
It should also be noted that Samsung typically releases flagship phones in two waves throughout the year, meaning it is possible Samsung could push the headset as broadly as it did in 2016 closer to the end of the year with the release of another new phone.