Worldwide shipments of augmented reality (AR) and VR headsets will bounce back from a weak year in 2017 and grow to 68.9 million units in 2022, with a five-year compound annual growth rate of 52.5 per cent, IDC said.

In 2017 the market “retreated” primarily due to a decline in shipments of screenless VR viewers. The research company said “previous champions of this form factor” stopped bundling headsets with smartphones, while consumers have shown little appetite for buying headsets separately.

However, it did point out the successful launch by Lenovo of Star Wars: Jedi Challenges with the Mirage AR headset showed the form factor “may still have legs if paired with the right content”.

The market is also likely to enjoy a boost following the introduction of Windows Mixed Reality devices from vendors including Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Lenovo and Samsung. Other new VR products in 2018 include Facebook’s Oculus Go, HTC’s Vive Pro and Lenovo’s Mirage Solo with Daydream.

In contrast, AR headsets (with the exception of screenless viewers) are likely to “remain largely commercially focused until later in the forecast”, due to the high cost and complexity, IDC said.

IDC anticipates combined AR/VR volumes in 2018 of 12.4 million units, a year-on-year increase of 48.5 percent “as new vendors, new use cases, and new business models emerge”.

“There has been a maturation of content and delivery as top-tier content providers enter the AR and VR space. Meanwhile, on the hardware side, numerous vendors are experimenting with new financing options and different revenue models to make the headsets, along with the accompanying hardware and software, more accessible to consumers and enterprises alike,” said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst at IDC.