Australian sales of virtual reality headsets for entertainment and gaming are tipped to surge, with Sony’s PlayStation VR expected to be the most popular addition to local loungerooms.
Research firm Telsyte has released an annual study into the emerging market segment, predicting that 115,000 VR headset units will be sold in the second half of 2016 with sales growing to over 500,000 units in 2017.
It estimates that 46 per cent of sales will be for gaming console-based VR systems, with 46 per cent mobile-based like Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear, and the remaining 8 per cent will be PC-based systems.
Looking forward to 2020, Telsyte estimates growth will surge to an extent that over 3.3 million units will have been sold in Australia, with VR being present in 2.5 million households, or 22.3 per cent of the population.
Virtual reality is becoming an increasingly popular offering as an accessory to smartphones, with Samsung and Google leading the charge, Facebook-owned Oculus Rift and HTC’s Vive link up with PCs, whereas the newly released Sony PlayStation VR is aimed at the large number of console gamers.
Meanwhile overnight Microsoft announced the Australian launch of its mixed reality Hololens headset. That particular device is currently aimed at business users, with a price tag to match, but is expected to evolve to include consumer uses.
Telsyte predicted Sony will be the most popular early option in Australia, due to the large existing number of PlayStation 4 console owners.
The PS4 is capable of utilising PlayStation VR and Telsyte estimates there are already in excess of 1 million PS4 consoles in Australian households.
Its report said that 20 per cent of PS4 users indicate a desire to buy a VR headset, and estimates 65 per cent of Australian VR hardware revenue will be generated by PlayStation VR in the second half of 2016.
While businesses are rapidly developing VR apps for various platforms, Telsyet managing director Foad Fadaghi said video gaming would be a key early driver for adoption.
“Entertainment will be the main driver of VR adoption in Australia, however organisations of all types are excited by the prospects of developing VR applications,” Mr Fadaghi said.
Telsyte’s research showed 75 per cent of Australians over the age of 16 are aware of VR, up from 49 per cent in October 2015.
It estimates that mobile VR will remain a first entry for many consumers to more expensive and sophisticated systems, but will remain an important new platform for movies, 360 video applications such as documentaries, e-commerce and education.
Earlier this year eBay and Myer partnered on a VR app to experiment with new ways for customers to shop.
In an earlier study nearly one in three regular game buyers (28 per cent) told Telsyte they wanted to purchase a VR headset. Of these, 40 per cent said they wanted to buy it this year.