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.
“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.”