IDC says video games will "clearly be the lead rationale" for folks to pick up a VR headset this year.
Virtual reality is poised to finally take hold: IDC estimates that VR headset makers will ship 9.6 million units and generate $2.3 billion in 2016.
Led primarily by Oculus, Samsung, Sony, and HTC, the platform has caught the attention of gamers and tech enthusiasts alike.
"While there have been some launch window hardware shipment hiccups that must be addressed near-term, I'm confident that they will be ironed out before the holiday season," Lewis Ward, research director of IDC gaming, said in a statement.
Facebook-owned Oculus began delivering its Rift headset last month . But an "unexpected component shortage" caused delays and forced the company to waive shipping fees for a number of customers. But that doesn't change the fact that the tethered head-mounted display (HMD) should drive combined shipments of over 2 million units this year, according to IDC Vice President of Devices and Displays Tom Minelli.
"When you combine this with robust shipments of screenless viewers from Samsung and other vendors launching later this year, you start to see the beginning of a reasonable installed base for content creators to target," he added.
In addition to screenless viewers (like the Samsung Gear VR$99.83 at Amazon, which requires a Galaxy smartphone to work) and tethered devices (Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR), IDC's data includes standalone headsets that integrate processing into the display (Microsoft HoloLens). It does not, however, consider basic, Google Cardboard-based products.
Ward says video games will "clearly be the lead rationale" for folks to pick up a VR headset this year. "The addition of exciting new titles will lead to a new wave of VR HMD hardware interest among those buying for themselves or family members and friends," he said.
It's clear that, for now, virtual reality has the world's attention. But augmented reality, like the HoloLens, still has some work to do. "While development kits…point to a strong future in AR hardware, these devices are dramatically harder to produce than VR products," Mainelli said. "Doing this right is more important than doing it fast."
IDC forecasts worldwide virtual and augmented reality shipments to pass 110 million units by 2020. In the meantime, the analysts expect companies to experiment with AR software on smartphones and tablets.
Stephanie began as a PCMag reporter in May 2012. She moved to New York City from Frederick, Md., where she worked for four years as a multimedia reporter at the second-largest daily newspaper in Maryland. She interned at Baltimore magazine and graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (in the town of Indiana, in the state of Pennsylvania) with a degree in journalism and mass communications. MORE »