Augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) headsets grew 92.1% year-over-year in 2021 as interest in the metaverse expanded and prices on these devices fell, according to new research from International Data Corp (IDC).
Global shipments for AR/VR headsets reached 11.2 million units in 2021, a record year that hasn’t seen similar volumes since 2016 when low-cost VR screenless viewers were dominant.
"Meta has led the AR/VR industry by offering a very accessibly priced headset and by moving beyond the core gaming audience, piquing the interest of non-gamers as well as businesses,” said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager at IDC. "The company still lacks major competitors though that will likely change over the course of the next 12 to 18 months when Sony will re-enter the space with the PSVR2, and we continue to expect headsets from the likes of Apple and other smartphone vendors to eventually launch and garner a lot of attention from end users.”
Meta’s Quest 2 was the most popular product in 2021 with 78% of the combined AR/VR market. DPVR was in second with success in the Asian markets, capturing 5.1% share globally. ByteDance’s Pico VR products were third with 4.5% share. HTC and China-based IQIYI rounded out the top 5.
Broader adoption in the commercial sector will propel the market further in 2022 as headset shipments are forecasted to grow 46.9% year-over-year and experience double-digit growth through 2026. By this point metaverse headsets will surpass 50 million units by the end of the forecast period managing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 35.1%.
AR headsets continue to be a small fraction of the overall AR/VR headset market with volumes coming more exclusively on the commercial side of the business.
"Consumer AR is still largely the domain of smartphones and tablets and will likely remain so in the near term,” said Tom Mainelli, group vice president of device and consumer research at IDC. “Meanwhile, discussion of the Metaverse is driving hype — and investment — around AR, VR, and a host of adjacent technologies, but we don't expect this frothy behavior to impact headset volumes any time soon."
The full research can be found in IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Augmented and Virtual Reality Headset Tracker.