The introduction of the Apple Watch did not create takeoff growth opportunities in the wearable device market. Consequently, vendors are working on other attractive products, and virtual reality (VR) currently stands out among the wearable technologies that are under development. Few VR devices have been shipped this year, but the latest data from Topology Research Institute (TRI), a division of TrendForce, estimates that the VR device shipment volume will soar to 14 million units in 2016.
“VR hardware’s market positioning is clearer than smartwatches,” said Jason Tsai, TrendForce’s wearable device analyst. “Since VR device’s strongest feature is providing users with an immersive audiovisual experience, its early application will be related to gaming.”
Tsai also stated that the main part of a VR device’s draw is the abundance of audiovisual contents, and VR games cost less resources to produce than VR movies. First-person games in particular can be ported to VR devices with some modifications. The relatively low costs and minimal time requirement thus will be strong incentives for game developers as they will become major content providers for VR hardware.
Tsai added that vendors could initially position VR devices as gaming accessories. Though the gaming accessories market is not as large as other consumer electronics markets (i.e. mobile devices), it has a specific group of consumers. Vendors will therefore be able to capture a stable user base early on. Using the eight million first-year sales figures of Microsoft Kinect in 2010 as a base for comparison, TrendForce believes VR devices will enjoy better sales results in 2016. Besides attracting consumers with novel and immersive gaming experience, VR-based products are also being aggressively promoted by tech and entertainment giants, including Disney, HTC, NVIDIA, Oculus, Samsung and Sony.
In the future, the VR industry will draw in more resources when all its participants have achieved concrete sales results and made profit. These investments will lead to more diverse content services for VR hardware, and the industry by then will become hot as its growth gradually accelerates and its previously small market expands.