If Apple releases its rumored augmented reality/virtual reality headset (“Apple Glasses”) this year as some pundits predict, it could be perfect timing. The worldwide market for augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) headsets grew 92.1% year over year in 2021 with shipments reaching 11.2 million units, according to new data from IDC.
The International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly AR/VR Headset Tracker says the holiday quarter was a major driver for the industry as almost half the annual volume was shipped during quarter four of 2021, closing out a record year that hasn’t seen similar volumes since 2016 when low-cost VR screenless viewers such as Samsung’s Gear VR reigned supreme.
IDC says Meta’s Quest 2 was by far the most popular product with 78% share of the combined AR/VR market during the year. In second place was DPVR, which has had plenty of success in Asian markets and captured 5.1% share globally.
The research group says ByteDance’s Pico VR products ranked third (4.5% share) and, like DPVR, is well position in Asian markets but has also done well in North America and Western Europe where it has helped fill the void left when Meta discontinued its Oculus Go. VR pioneer HTC and China-based online video platform iQIYI rounded out the top 5.
New entrants as well as broader adoption from the commercial sector will propel the market further as headset shipments are forecast to grow 46.9% year over year in 2022 and experience double-digit growth through 2026 as global shipments of AR/VR headsets surpass 50 million units by the end of the forecast with a 35.1% compounded annual growth rate (CAGR).
About Apple Glasses
When it comes to Apple Glasses, such a device will arrive in late 2022 or 2023, depending on which rumor you believe. It will be a head-mounted display. Or may have a design like “normal” glasses. Or it may be eventually be available in both. The Apple Glasses may or may not have to be tethered to an iPhone to work. Other rumors say that Apple Glasses could have a custom-build Apple chip and a dedicated operating system dubbed “rOS” for “reality operating system.”