The Hype Numbers in VR Industry

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The Hype Numbers in VR Industry

I have written an in-depth industry report before but the situation is changing all the time, new numbers and stats emerge. I stumbled on VRtalk’s forum post and felt all that hype needs some explaining. Because the web is full of it.

So hereafter my comments to the statements from VRtalk (in bold):

  1. HTC believes that by 2020 Sales of VR Headsets and software Will Surpass That of the Smartphone Market
    HTC will say these things, of course, as it fully represents their interest in having more adoption. 2020 is around the corner and I very much doubt the adoption rate gets even anywhere near – smartphones are always in our pockets and socially usable (e.g. in bus stop).
  2. Over 200,000 developers have registered to work on Oculus Rift games and experiences.
    I don’t have the source but this statement is again very lofty. Much more interesting question is how many companies (vs individual developers, hackers, geeks) have their hands on the consumer model (CV1) and Oculus Touch input system. So 200,000 developers… Hard to believe. More like hundreds of development companies?
  3. The YouTube 360 channel already has over 1.3 million subscribers.
    That’s interesting. Do people subscribe to channels they rarely watch?
  4. Over 1 million Samsung Gear VR Headsets have sold thus far.
    Hard data – yes. Except ca 400K were given as add-ons with Samsung S7 in US alone; probably 100-200K in Europe. But even more important than the number of sales is the actual adaption – I would like to see statistics how many users and how often actually use the device on daily bases. I have a feeling the rate is much lower than we think.
  5. 500 million VR headsets to be sold by 2025 according to Piper Jaffray. This year alone they estimate the following sales: 5 million Gear VRs, 3.6 million Oculus Rifts, 2.1 million HTC Vives, and 1.4 million PlayStation VR.
    The first statement is impossible to evaluate – all is possible and will change in nearly a decade. In that respect the 500M sold is completely believable (and again, 500K sold vs 500M active users is another matter, but it doesn’t still matter in given context, 2025 is too far). Oculus and HTC Vive sales could come close but I’m pretty sure the manufacturing capacity doesn’t give them so huge output. Even bigger stopper is how GPU-intensive task is rendering the VR, prompting graphics card maker Nvidia (in an interview with Bloomberg in December) to estimate only 13 million capable PCs currently exist. The numbers in the statement and reality do not match unless the costly PCs will start to sell as hot bread.
    The 5M point in GearVR sales is absolutely impossible to achieve for 2 reasons:
    a) 4M units to be sold in 7 months isn’t realistic considering how low have been the sales thus far
    b) the announcement of Google Daydream launching coming falls is making many wait with their purchase
  6. The application for Google Cardboard has already been downloaded over 10 million times.
    Shows interest, not adoption.
  7. There are already an estimated 690 Virtual Reality startups, who have brought in an average of $4.5 million in venture capital a piece.
    Hype & very distorted statistics, ecpecially if the total includes Oculus and Magic Leap. It’s more likely much lower. The interest from VC is getting higher, but there’s still hesitation.
  8. KZero estimates that by 2018 there will be over 170 million VR users worldwide
    Hard to see how that number is “generated”, but most probably it’s including China that has several of its own ecosystems.

The last two I decided to not even comment.

Unfortunately we don’t yet have raw data, we don’t know the precise numbers for early adaption rate. But there is a growing user base and first experiences are being purchased, so it’s all happening. Just not at the rate some are advertising.

Bottom line: please all hold on to your critical thinking!

Peeter Nieler
Peeter Nieler
Adviser in business development and hardware design. Co-Founder. Also a Founder of VR R&D company Criffin.
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