Samsung predicts VR device shipments to rise 390% by 2020

A report from Samsung and CCS Insight has predicted that by 2020, the VR market will have increased its shipments by 390%. In the UK alone, it is expected that that market is set to reach 3.84 million shipments in four years and will have grown to a value of £354.3m.

The report, A View from the Future, explored the way in which virtual reality’s anticipated transition from a purely gaming-oriented technology to a mainstream experience will change the market. Of particular note was the prediction that three-quarters of all headsets will be mobile VR devices, with a growth rate of more than 400% year-on-year.

“Virtual reality and 360-degree content has the potential to transform both the way we see and experience the world and how many traditional industries operate,” said Conor Pierce, vice president of IT and mobile, Samsung Electronics UK & Ireland.  “We spotted the potential of virtual reality early and made a pledge to put technology normally associated with science fiction in the hands of many by making it accessibly priced.”

Important to VR’s transition is the research’s revelation that families are one of the key consumer groups driving the market, and whose principle uses are for education and entertainment. While gamers have served the technology’s nascent stage well, its future will rely on drawing in less tech-savvy groups with the range of experiences on offer.

According to the research, the tipping point with such groups is making the tech relevant to them. Samsung’s report found that while 63% of the public find it easy to understand VR and 81% find it exciting, a mere 36% saw the relevance of the technology today.

This is no doubt due in part due to the fact that the technology remains at the early stages of development, but will not be helped by the perception that it is only for gamers or technophiles.

Images courtesy of Samsung

“We are at that early, volatile phase of a new technology when device makers, software developers, and users experiment and innovate with what is possible.  What is clear is that greater availability of devices and an explosion of compelling 360-degree content is driving new levels of demand,” summarised Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight.

“Facebook and Google are strategically committed to VR technology, offering a combined global distribution platform for virtual reality (through Facebook and YouTube) of more than 1.6 billion consumers. This is rapidly moving us towards a tipping point for VR awareness and adoption.”

“In an uncertain world, the opportunity to escape, go somewhere else and do things you have never done is what makes virtual reality so intriguing for people, which our research validates,” added Pierce.

“As so many of us live through our smartphones, our Galaxy S7 devices are the perfect gateway to try VR. Alongside that, we’re democratising the technology through the Gear 360 so that everybody can create their own immersive content.”

Mark Zuckerberg: VR goal is still 5-10 years away

Mark Zuzkerberg has said that the true goal of virtual reality could still be a decade away, in a testimony during a high-profile court case against his company.

Facebook, as owner of Oculus, is currently in the middle of being sued by ZeniMax Media for allegedly stealing technology for the virtual reality device. If proved guilty, they will be pursued for the amount of $2bn by ZeniMax.  However, perhaps more pertinent to the actual future of virtual reality are comments arising from Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony.

As it currently stands, virtual reality is still a far cry from being integrated into everyday life on a wide scale. Oculus, HTC Vive and Playstation VR are still largely targeting gamers and the idea of entertainment experiences. While they have found varying levels of success, all three platforms are being held back by the youth of the technology and, in the case of Vive and Oculus, the limited by the need for a high performing computer to plug into.

Image and featured image courtesy of Oculus

“I don’t think that good virtual reality is fully there yet,” said Zuckerberg. “It’s going to take five or 10 more years of development before we get to where we all want to go.”

The revelation isn’t a particularly shocking one; even the most ardent believer in virtual reality has to admit that we’re a fair way off the goal. Indeed, we can be seen as being in the first wave of mainstream virtual reality, with the main players in the tech using gaming as a way to introduce the technology to a group that are most likely to be interested from the off.

Zuckerberg has far grander plans than simply expanding the user base however, as seen with projects such as Facebook Social VR. If games are the entry, the idea is to expand virtual reality to become a whole new computing platform used for a bevy of experiences and containing a whole load of tools. The ambition is high, the reality slightly lagging behind.

Mark Zuckerberg with Priscilla Chan in 2016

When asked about the realisation of VR as this new computing platform, Zuckerberg replied: “These things end up being more complex than you think up front. If anything, we may have to invest even more money to get to the goals we had than we had thought up front.”

He then went on to add that the probable investment for Facebook to reach that goal is likely to top the $3bn mark over the next ten years. Considering the social media giant spent $2bn just to acquire Oculus, this represents a truly colossal investment in something that seemed to be initially set to hit a lot sooner. Admittedly the goal is rather grand: providing hundreds of millions of people with a good virtual reality experience transcending gaming alone.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, it’s very important that you know that Mark Zuckerberg did in fact wear a suit to trial. Whether Palmer Luckey, making his first public appearance since his Gamergate/Trump support scandal last year, will manage to ditch the flip flops when he testifies is yet to be seen.