Global virtual reality revenues will reach $7.17 billion by the end of this year, according to a new report by Greenlight Insights, which is also predicting that global VR revenues will total close to $75 billion by 2021. More than 65 percent of all VR revenues will come from headset sales this year, according to Greenlight.
Yet another hyper-bullish VR forecast seeking to beat us over the head with an impressive billion dollar+ figure. However, just do the quick back-of-envelope math, and $7.17 billion isn't all that impressive -- and perhaps not even attainable. 65% of that is $4.6 billion, and if you divide that by the average price of an HMD headset -- for the sake of argument, let's say $350, averaging the cost of low, mid-range, and end high-devices -- and you get 13 million devices total. So let's broaden that out and say Greenlight Industries forecast suggests 10-15 million headsets will be sold in 2017.
Which isn't all that much, and maybe not even obtainable:
Total install base for mid-range and high-end VR devices from sales over the last 2-3 years is, as of January, around 7 million.
Just last year, a single videogame console (the Playstation 4) sold 12 million units. In just one year.
So maybe do some breathing before we starting throwing numbers like $75 billion around?
UPDATE, 3:30PM: Just occurred to me Greenlight may also be counting sales of low-end VR devices in China, which were reported to be 10 million in 2015. If so, I'd want to see the breakdown of the China market versus the West, especially because an ecosystem in which the Chinese market predominates is much more difficult for the Western tech market succeed in. As I've written before, it could very well be virtual reality's key market is China, but not for very good reasons.
UPDATE 2, 4/12, 10:25AM: On Twitter, Greenlight confirms this forecast includes the China market (above) but declines to give out specific numbers (below). Counting low-end Chinese HMDs would suggests a larger market -- let's estimate 20 million total. However, as I noted above, even that would not be a relatively large number, and if most of the uptake is in China, VR's success as a mass market product gets even less clear. It does, again, raise this question: Is virtual reality destined to mainly become a Chinese phenomenon?