IDC Predicts VR Hardware to Lag Behind Tablet Sales in 2026 • The Register

The analyst firm IDC has determined the sales figures for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) headsets and found that they will not catch on in the foreseeable future – at least compared to conventional computer devices.

The company noted that 2022 will be remembered as a stinky year for the power glasses, as global shipments fell 12.8 percent year-on-year to 9.7 million units.

Rising prices and a tough economy are factors driving the decline, IDC believes.

The company offered a better outlook for the devices and forecast continued shipment growth of 30 percent or more.

But even at this rapid growth rate, only 35 million devices will be shipped in 2026.

For comparison, IDC found in June that tablet computers are shipping at a whopping 40 million quarterly, while factories around the world will be producing more than 250 million PCs for most of the next few years.

Let’s say tablet and PC sales fall 20 percent by 2026, from about 410 million now to about 330 million.

This still leaves the AR/VR hardware market at just over a tenth of the market for traditional client devices.

And let’s not forget that smartphones will keep moving at over a billion units a year.

But there’s one big tech category that will outperform AR/VR headgear: gaming consoles, which are struggling to move 30 million units per quarter between Sony’s PlayStation, Microsoft’s Xbox, and Nintendo’s Switch.

So maybe this whole Metaverse thing has legs: If IDC is right, there will be over 100 million AR/VR devices in circulation by 2026, and that fleet will be growing at about the same rate as the world’s console collection.

That’s a decent market for developers.

And as it stands, those developers need to do things the Mark Zuckerberg way, because Meta’s Quest 2 headset owned 84.6 percent of the global AR/VR headset market for the first three quarters of 2022. ByteDance’s Pico is next at 7.4 percent.

IDC believes the market will heat up as Sony launches a next-gen product and Apple steps in.

“Augmented reality has long been the domain of standalone headsets aimed at commercial use, helping to transform the way organizations train their workforce,” said Ramon T. Llamas, Research Director, Mobile Devices and AR /VR at IDC. “While these were sophisticated in their use, the form factor was sometimes a challenge in certain work environments. Looking ahead, we expect AR headsets to resemble and feel like more conventional glasses, while maintaining the experience currently on offer – or even surpassing it today.” ® IDC Predicts VR Hardware to Lag Behind Tablet Sales in 2026 • The Register

Rick Schindler

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