Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) players already have something to celebrate this year. According to an IDC report Wednesday, shipments for VR and AR headsets rose 27.2% year-over-year in Q1 2019. On top of that, the research firm expects the market to continue growing throughout the year, as standalone headsets become more popular in both categories.
Well, maybe AR fans should celebrate less. According to IDC, AR doesn't currently contribute much to that market. VR headsets represented 96.6% of shipments in Q1 2019. That's expected to change as more standalone AR products become available, especially as businesses start to embrace the technology. The introduction of more entry-level products might also help AR catch up to its VR counterpart.
IDC said it expects standalone headsets that don't need to connect to a PC or smartphone, like the Oculus Quest, along with more powerful devices that rely on PCs, like the Oculus Rift S--to become more important to the market throughout 2019. In 2018, the VR market was comprised of 44.1% tethered headsets, 26.6% standalone headsets and 29.3% screenless viewers. Those proportions are expected to shift to a respective 46.1%, 38.2% and 15.7% this year.
The AR market is expected to become even more reliant on standalone headsets. IDC predicted tetherless products will make up 53.9% of the AR market in 2019, as opposed to 47.8% last year, while tethered products and screenless viewers get a respective 27% and 19.1%. Maybe people don't actually want to lug around relatively high-end PCs just to use AR products outside the confines of their offices.
All told, IDC expects global shipments for the VR and AR market to reach 7.6 million units in 2019. That's up from 5.9 million units in 2018. "Much of this growth will occur in the commercial segment," the research firm said, "which will consume roughly one of every three headsets shipped in 2019." (Hopefully that's "consume" as in "purchase" and not, ya know, "eating a bunch of headsets.")
More information about the VR and AR market is available via the "Worldwide Quarterly Augmented and Virtual Reality Headset Tracker" on the IDC website. The firm also shared a simple breakdown of where it expects the market to go in 2019: