It’s the PlayStation VR launch day, and mine is sat next to me while I write this, taunting me from across the desk. However, if figures from research and consulting firm Strategy Analytics are to be believed, i’m in the minority: just 3% of Britons will get a headset this year.
This is a real blow to the narrative that VR is about to hit the mainstream, as this forecast from Strategy Analytics suggests that only around two million Britons will own a headset by teh end of 2016, with 90% of those being basic smartphone VR models.
This makes some sense: the more expensive headsets are currently undergoing an unofficial rise in price due to the impact of Brexit and the crashing of the pound, but they also require the most space in the home, which is at something of a premium in most UK homes.
These "lower-cost" headsets are mostly smartphone shells, where you’ll slide your smartphone into to serve as the inner workings. You’ll have seen these as the Samsung Gear VR, Google Cardboard or even the purple hued Merge. They’ll account for 92% of units sold. The Playstation VR, launching today, will account for 7% of sales, whereas the highest end headsets will apparently snatch just 1% of sales.
“Despite the rush of companies eager to jump in, the reality is that VR take-up among the British public will be a slow burn and dominated by low-cost headsets,” said David MacQueen from Strategy Analytics “The VR headset market will be much like the car market – most owning the likes of Vauxhalls and Fords, a handful owning Porsches and the odd few splashing out on a Ferrari.”
MacQueen acknowledged the difference between quality in VR: “the experience of a Google Cardboard versus an HTC Vive is as different as listening to a car stereo versus being in the front row of a concert.”
?However, it’s estimated that by 2020 one in three British adults will own some form of VR headset. This is a more negative outlook than some forecasts, but hopefully in a couple of months we’ll be able to see for ourselves how it’s going for many of the big manufacturers.