It sure seems so, based on the venerable analyst firm's most recent report:
[W]orldwide revenues for the augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) market will grow from $5.2 billion in 2016 to more than $162 billion in 2020... Sales of AR/VR hardware will generate more than 50% of worldwide revenues throughout the forecast period.
This $162 billion figure has been widely reported everywhere, but as with the Bloomberg/Business Intelligence forecast on premium VR devices, no one I know has run the back-of-envelope calculations on this figure. But since IDC's report says over half this $162B revenue is from VR/AR hardware devices, that's $81 billion. And if we divide that by $350 per individual device sale at retail -- averaging the price of premium devices like Vive and low-end smartphone add-ons -- we get well over 225 million devices. (And that's estimating downward.)
I've asked the report's lead author, Christopher Chute, if my assumption is correct, because 225 million devices sold in such a short time is a massive market:
For a couple comparison points, only one videogame console, the Playstation 2, has anywhere near that install base, and that took over a decade, while the latest videogame consoles, the PS4 and Xbox One, have moved less than 100 million total in the last 3 years.
A couple even more relevant data points: It took the iPhone over 8 years to exceed 225M in sales, and that's, you know, a fricking phone. And right now, in 2016, if we're to include Google Cardboard's 5 million, and Samsung Gear's ~1 million, and 10 million China-made smartphone add-ons, and the under 1 million sales of both Vive and Oculus Rift, we're well under 20 million VR devices on the market total so far. So with this IDC number, we're talking 10x growth in under 5 years. Which I guess is possible, but when people start talking about adoption rates comparable with the iPhone, I'd say it's time to start scrutinizing these estimates much closer.
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