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VR’s Mainstream ‘Tipping Point’ Years Away

Though there’s strong interest in virtual reality and the category is gaining momentum, the tipping point for mainstream consumer adoption is still years away, Greenlight VR found in a 10-year outlook released last week.

The research firm forecasts that the total number of VR headsets on the market, including mobile VR devices (such as the Samsung Gear VR) and tethered head-mounted displays (such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive) will grow from 2 million this year to 136 million in 2025.

Of the two categories, mobile VR headsets are poised to dominate the market, Greenlight VR found.

Mobile VR headsets (not counting Google Cardboard units) will rise from 1 million this year, to 122 million in 2025, while tethered VR headsets increase from 1 million in 2016 to 13.6 million in 2025, Greenlight VR said.

Though Oculus, the Facebook-owned VR company, has dominated the early headlines for tethered VR products, the Sony PlayStation VR “may outstrip the competition,” the report said, citing Sony’s relatively lower price, large PS4 install base and its access to media assets and longstanding studio relationships. Greenlight VR expects Sony to sell 3.1 million PS VR units by 2018, representing more than half of the market for head-mounted displays.

“We believe the VR hardware market and related ecosystem will take another six to eight years to reach a tipping point of hyper growth along the adoption cycle,” Greenlight VR noted in the report. “Unlike smartphones, where there was a stronger need for consumers to have these devices, the use cases that will drive broad consumer adoption are still early in development.”

The study also focused on the prospects for VR developers. Though some will focus on multiple genres, VR developers are gravitating most heavily toward games (41%), followed by nongaming entertainment (37%), education 33%, virtual travel (22%), social networking (17%), corporate training (22%) and healthcare-related apps and services (17%).