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Total VR device shipments will reach 110 million by 2021: report

While the success or failure of the virtual reality market is still very much up to debate, a new report from ABI Research claims that its growth will come on the back of standalone apparatuses as opposed to mobile-reliant ones.

The finding comes from ABI Research's Augmented and Virtual Reality Devices and Enterprise Verticals report, which presents data culled from various market projections concerning the augmented and virtual reality market. The report also projects growth for marketing applications for VR through the same time period.

?This is due to standalone devices beginning to provide a better VR experience in this timeline,? said Eric Abbruzzese, senior analyst at ABI Research. ?Mobile VR is a great introduction to VR and will continue to get better over time, but at its core is still a repurpose of mobile devices for a strenuous use case; battery life, heat, etc. negatively affect the user experience. 

?Standalone VR devices can circumvent some of these issues by being a dedicated VR device,? he said. ?Lower total ASPs will also drive adoption. 

?Also, a hot topic right now is inside-out tracking: full spatial tracking without external transmitters, receivers, etc. Standalone devices could be better suited to house the required sensors and processing, not limited by the smartphone?s form.?

VR growth
Although currently, mobile device-reliant VR shipments ? such as Google Daydream? dwarf today's other VR device types, standalone devices ? such Oculus Rift ? will enjoy a 405 percent compound annual growth rate through 2021. This is compared to a 42 percent compound annual growth rate for mobile-assisted VR, according to the report.

Mobile-reliant devices currently dominate the market

ABI Research?s report also claims that non-gaming software and content, VR advertising and VR-related video revenue will together hold a significant portion of the market: VR applications in retail and marketing will therefore see a 124 percent compound annual growth rate through 2021.

?Quick, high quality experiences are key in the early stages,? Mr. Abbruzzese said. ?Lengthy content will turn away newcomers, and low quality content will turn away everyone. 

?Racing to create something just to be involved in VR is a mistake, as low quality content is not only more noticeable in VR, but it can also be a physically uncomfortable experience. Hardware does play a part here, so understanding a target device type and performance category will help create a more unified and user-friendly experience.?

VR and AR
The report also features research on potential interactions between the VR and AR markets, and how one will be able to contribute to the growth of the other. 

Standalone devices such as Google Daydream will begin to pick up in sales in the coming years

Mobile devices, which dominate the VR/AR markets, tend heavily towards virtual reality. Such was the case when NBA Digital partnered with a live virtual reality technology firm to show one NBA League Pass game a week in VR to users with compatible Samsung devices (see story). 

And marketers are proving to be at the head of the pack when it comes to VR innovation. Last December Samsung, while occupied with an Internet of Things installation in Philadelphia, juggled a VR installation in New York's Herald Square as a part of its "Gift of Galaxy" holiday campaign (see story). 

?In the next one to two years, AR and VR will remain mostly separate markets,? Mr. Abbruzzese said. ?Content roles will remain similar for that reason, with gaming and video dominating VR. 

?However, the movement towards Mixed Reality is on the horizon, with the distinction between AR and VR becoming more and more nebulous,? he said. ?Bringing in more AR elements over time will blend content types and use cases. 

Content requiring high mobility and high visibility will benefit from this Mixed Reality growth, while the more traditional consumer-targeted content (games and video) will remain best on dedicated VR platforms. Immersion will remain a cornerstone for VR, and MR has the potential to enable even higher levels of immersion by bringing in elements of the real world to anchor the user experience.?