Even though the expectations for virtual reality remain high, the current market sentiment tells an entirely different story. Without any real progress on the hardware and software side of things, no vast improvements will become apparent. New figures released by IDC show the VR industry is flat across the board, at best.
The VR Industry Needs a Boost
Any research into virtual reality hardware and software tends to yield very mixed results. Global shipments of headsets are down by over one-third compared to Q2 of 2017. That is rather strange, considering how all major headsets have dropped in price, and some new units have come to market in the past few months. IDC claims this will be a temporary setback, although the average consumer appears to think rather differently.
There are several key factors contributing to this growing disinterest. First of all, there is the decline in “screenless” viewers. This includes devices which require a mobile phone to be used properly, such as Google Cardboard and consorts. Those shipments have declined in volume the most, which is not necessarily unexpected. Mobile VR, while affordable, is only an entry point, rather than a proper representation of what VR is capable of.
Surprisingly, tethered VR headsets are not faring much better either. Both Oculus and Sony struggle to maintain any real momentum, even though the latter company is still far more successful in the VR industry as a whole. HTC has seen a slightly higher number of shipments, primarily because of the Viveport subscription service finally hitting its stride.
Even though these current figures do not instill much confidence, IDC remains certain things will turn around. Mainstream VR is not appealing, especially when it comes to productivity or social experiences. Anyone who is not into gaming has no real reason to purchase a VR headset as of right now, and turning that situation around will be difficult. Thankfully, improvements in terms of commercial applications such as training and education paint a somewhat promising outlook.
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