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Virtual Reality Platforms Gain Many New Use Cases

After an initial market launch that lacked available media, virtual reality (VR) platforms are now ready to thrive from the introduction of compelling new content. According to the latest market study by ABI Research, total VR device shipments will reach 110 million units by 2021.

While mobile device-reliant VR shipments -- such as Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream -- dwarf other VR device types, standalone devices will experience a 405 percent CAGR through 2021, compared to a 42 percent CAGR for mobile VR.

Market Development for Virtual Reality Apps

New and emerging device vendors -- such as Royole and Pico -- already entered the global arena, with many other Chinese manufacturers poised to expand their presence in this nascent market. Besides, independent software developers are poised to create new apps.

"Mobile VR built a solid foundation for the overall market over the past few years, but standalone VR devices will eventually drive it," said Eric Abbruzzese, senior analyst at ABI Research.

Low cost and high accessibility will likely drive VR adoption with mobile devices and associated VR accessories. However, a trend toward standalone devices is gaining momentum, and will continue over the next five years until mobile and standalone VR devices reach shipment parity.

With an influx of standalone VR devices, a greater range of use cases will be explored, broadening the gaming-focused VR market of today. Furthermore, ABI Research anticipates a total market size of $64 billion by 2021.

Non-gaming software and content, VR advertising, and VR-related video revenue will together hold a significant portion of the market. VR applications in retail and marketing will therefore see a 124 percent CAGR through 2021.

Video, education, and tourism are expected to all see significant growth, and while not forecast to be as large as the VR gaming market, it will be a notable addition to this evolving marketplace.

Outlook for New VR Use Cases

According to the ABI assessment, the three primary VR device types -- mobile, standalone, and tethered -- are entering the market with unique value propositions, target audiences, and use case support.

However, ABI analysts believe that there is the less understood market of mixed reality (MR) on the horizon. MR incorporates elements of augmented reality to VR devices, as evident in Intel’s Alloy reference design.

Associated machine vision technology like RealSense or Google Tango opens a compelling AR/VR hybrid opportunity on the mobile platform. Taking the best of both AR and VR will open up the enterprise market, and enable entirely new use cases and associated applications.

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