Virtual Reality: 2016 Offerings and Metrics in Review

by Tu Skuse | Dec. 21, 2016

2016 has been a significant year for virtual reality (VR) headsets. CE manufacturers have developed models for any household budget. Parks Associates finds that in Q3 2016, 3.5% of U.S. broadband households owned one or more virtual reality headsets. This might seem like a small number; however, compared to Q1 2016, this is a significant increase (2.4% in Q1 2016).

As the gifting season is here, many tech news sources are putting together lists of the best VR sets from 2016. Prices range from $79 (Google Daydream View) to $799 (HTC Vive) for consumer-ready headsets. Google Cardboard is by far the most affordable option at $15. This "device," which really is made of cardboard, can demonstrate to consumers what the technology can do. Once they've bought this item, owners download the Cardboard Apps to their Android phone to get a taste of a parallel world called "virtual reality."

As of Q3 2016, less than 7% of U.S. broadband households have tried virtual reality headsets, and Parks Associates expects that number to increase substantially during the holiday shopping season. Christmas shoppers can stop in a Gamestop or a Microsoft store (select stores only) to experience a 15-minute session with the HTC Vive.

The holiday season will also help increase the adoption rate for VR. The affordable Google Daydream View VR set came out in October 2016, and Samsung is offering a free Gear VR gift set with the purchase of a Samsung smartphone.

This 3.5% of U.S. broadband households that have so far adopted VR headsets are Innovators or "early" Early Adopters. When VR becomes more common and available to the general population at an affordable price, it will start to impact the way we view and experience entertainment. The application of VR takes communication between humans and technologies to a new level. The IoT has enhanced human-tech communication from one-way (passively watching TV) to interactive (on-demand, OTT services) so that users are halfway into the screen. VR gives us an opportunity to be a part of what we are watching.

For more studies on VR technologies, subscribe to Parks Associates newsletters. In Q2 2017, Parks Associates will release Virtual Reality – Disrupting the Entertainment Experience, an industry report assessing how virtual reality disrupts the entertainment experience.

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