Global spending on the tools used to access the metaverse — augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) — is expected to maintain a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 32.3%, according to new research from International Data Corp. (IDC).
This equates to a growth reaching $50.9 billion in 2026 up from $13.8 billion this year. Of this, VR will account for more than 70% of the metaverse tools. Spending, meanwhile, will be evenly split between consumer and commercial applications, IDC said.
"The AR/VR market has been taking slow but sure steps in recent years and is poised to take longer strides in the years to come," said Ramon T. Llamas, research director of mobile devices and AR/VR at IDC. "Recently announced and upcoming hardware from major brands showcase clear improvement from first-generation devices. The deeper proliferation into current use cases and the addition of new ones highlight the versatility that AR/VR brings. And along with these is a whole host of services to help make them happen. The result: a maturing market ready to thrive for consumers and commercial users alike."
According to IDC research, the major use case for AR investments will be industrial maintenance and training, accounting for almost one-third of all AR-related spending. Meanwhile, VR technology investments will come in the form of training and collaboration, capturing about 44% of the market by 2026.
The major consumer use case for both AR/VR will be gaming as it will grow to about 25% of all spending by the end of the five-year forecast.
However, the fastest spending growth will be emergency response with an 82.9% five-year CAGR followed by AR gaming with a 57.8% CAGR and internal videography with a 47.8% CAGR. More than 16 other use cases are forecast to have five-year CAGRs of 30% or more.
"Enterprises deploy investments in AR and VR in a variety of ways including headset-centric and personal device-centric approaches as well as on premise and via cloud services supported implementations,” said Marcus Torchia, research vice president of data and analytics at IDC. “This flexibility is allowing enterprises to realize positive returns and short payback periods on their investments."
The full research can be found in IDC’s Worldwide Augmented and Virtual Reality Spending Guide.