Worldwide augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) headset shipments declined for the fourth quarter in a row as volumes fell 44.6% year over year during the second quarter of 2023 (2Q23), according to new data from IDC.
However, the research group expects sales to rebound in 2024, which should be good news for the Apple Vision Pro. The US$3,499 “Spatial Computer” will, according to Apple, be available in “early” 2024. However, it will, apparently, only be available in limited quantities at first.
IDC says this year’s lull in the AR/VR headset market doesn’t come as a surprise given the economic downturn and the small pool of suppliers for both AR and VR headsets. In fact, 2023 volumes are shaping up to be only slightly higher than 2017 with 8.5 million headsets expected to ship this year.
While 2023 will be another year of decline for AR/VR headset shipments, IDC forecasts the market to rebound in 2024, growing 46.8% year over year thanks to new hardware from Meta and ByteDance, the introduction of Apple’s Vision Pro, and the growing presence of smaller companies. By 2027, the market is expected to reach 30.3 million units globally.
Meta’s status as the market leader has not changed as the company held 50.2% market share during the quarter. However, the company does face a challenge from Sony (27.1% market share) and ByteDance (9.6% share), each of which gained share in 2Q23. Rounding out the top 5 were Xreal (formerly Nreal) and DPVR, each of which had slightly more than 2% share.
“The ARVR market is at a critical point in its short history,” says Ramon T. Llamas, research director for Mobile Devices and AR/VR at IDC. “Apple’s entry next year will bring much needed attention to a small market, but it will also force other companies to compete in different ways. For some, it means meeting Apple head-to-head with similar features and applications. For others, it means guarding their specific market segments. In some cases, it will be both. Still, this will provide users with greater choice and comparison, and eventually the definition for best-of-breed will take on new meaning going forward.”