Will 100 Million Mixed Reality Headsets Ship by 2021?
By Shel Israel, Partner, Transformation Group LLC
We are not bean counters by nature. Robert Scoble and I tend to form our opinions by anecdotal research: We talk to a lot of people who know about Mixed Reality technologies: VR, AR, AI, sensors, data and the IOT. We look at what we see under development in technology and changing cultures and we make our speculations about the near-term future and how it will impact business and life.
A few weeks back, IDC a venerable and respected market researcher projected that 100 million AR and VR devices will ship by 2021. Immediately, others started explaining why this number was overly optimistic, basing that perspective on historic trends of new technologies that have no history. The number felt conservative t me. I recollected when Forrester, another established MR firm had been accused of Hyperbolization when it forecast 100 million people would connect to the Worldwide Web by the year 2000. The calculation, the highest estimate by any research firm turned out to be low by about 200 percent.
We made no comment, but started thinking about what we see and talking to who we know and can now conclude that the IDC projection is probably too low. I turned to Mike Boland, our friend and Transformation Group partner, who recently left position as chief analyst at BIA/Kelsey, to start ARtillry, the first market research firm for just VR and AR. The new firm recently finished a new report covering just VR devices, where the firm counted 16.9 million units shipped so far. This is a significant head start, but the ARtillry report included 10 million Google Cardboard devices, an ultra low-end device that perhaps proves no more about adoption than does free samples of foods in a Costco. Superdata, a market research firm estimates that 6.3 million headsets from more serious makers have shipped, an estimate in synch with the ARtillry data.
ARtillry’s report did not cover AR, which today is far smaller in consumer markets than VR, but we think this will change. There really aren’t any Mixed Reality glasses for end users at all as we write today. Mixed Reality, as we described it in our book, is the next generation of device, where AR and VR are tightly integrated in one device, one that will weigh no more than ordinary eyeglasses and look just as fashionable, while containing technology that goes far beyond what most people can experience today.