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VR Headset Shipments Exceed 1 Million Units in Q3 2017

It’s been a busy year for the virtual reality (VR) industry with new headsets being announced as well as prices being slashed to encourage new customers to the technology. In a recent report by global technology market analyst firm Canalys, in the three months leading up to 30th September more than 1 million headsets were sold worldwide for the first time.

Canalys reports that PlayStation VR was the market leader shipping more than 490,000 head-mounted displays (HMDs) in Q3 2017. That was followed by Oculus Rift, which shipped 210,000 headsets, while HTC Vive took third place, shipping 160,000 units. Collectively, Sony, Oculus and HTC made up 86 percent of the total market in Q3 2017.

Canalys VR Shipments chart

The market analyst firm put these numbers down to one reason, price. “VR adoption in the consumer segment is highly dependent on price, and Oculus’ strategy of lowering prices has definitely helped drive adoption,” said Canalys Research Analyst Vincent Thielke. “Hugo Barra is betting on his next product, the US$199 Oculus Go standalone headset, to reach more users next year. The Go will excite first-time users, but driving adoption beyond social media will be a challenge.”

It was more than likely that due to these positive numbers Oculus decided to permanently reduce the cost of Oculus Rift to $399 USD after its summer sale had ended.

Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) has benefited from the Asian market as well. “Sony has dominated the Japanese VR headset market since the release of the PS VR,” said Canalys Analyst Jason Low, “taking more than an 80% share, and will continue to lead as it increases supply of the PS VR headset with bundles featuring new titles from popular franchises, including Doom, Skyrim and Gran Turismo.”

And these figures are just for Q3 2017, Q4 may reveal even higher numbers due to the aggressive pricing strategies that these three companies have implemented for Black Friday, with Oculus Rift dropped to $349/£349, PlayStation VR bundles starting from $299 – plus big name titles like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VRand HTC Vive offering bundles with free videogames and the Deluxe Audio Strap.

Also worth considering for Q4 2017 and into 2018 is Microsoft’s entry into the market with its Windows Mixed Reality platform. “VR in business can be applied to many industries, such as manufacturing, healthcare and education,” said Low. “As top-tier PC vendors, including HP, Lenovo, Acer, Asus and Dell, launch their own VR headsets, using their distribution channel efficiencies, one can expect a strong VR uptake in business.”

While these figures are certainly positive for the high-end headset market, they don’t indicate what the mobile VR market is like. And if price is driving sales, then mobile should be even higher.

VRFocus will continue to follow the latest developments in the VR industry, reporting back with the updates.