Augmented- and virtual-reality gear could grow into a $150 billion market by 2020, according to new estimates from consulting and investment firm Digi-Capital.
That analysis is “based on how VR/AR could grow new markets and cannibalize existing ones after the market really gets going next year,” Tim Merel, managing director of Digi-Capital, wrote in a posting on TechCrunch. Augmented reality—i.e., devices such as the upcoming HoloLens from Microsoft, which will project holographic images onto real-life surfaces—will take the lion’s share of the resulting revenue.
“We think VR’s addressable market is primarily core games and 3D films, plus niche enterprise users,” Merel wrote. “VR could have tens of millions of users, with hardware price points similar to console.” Augmented reality, meanwhile, could drive significant activity in business, advertising, consumer apps, and television/film—as well as those carriers providing bandwidth: “AR’s scale could prove a bonanza for mobile networks’ voice and data businesses. Someone has to pay for all that mobile data.”
All of this hinges, of course, on augmented- and virtual-reality offerings actually taking off in the marketplace. While Oculus Rift has attracted a lot of buzz in recent months, especially after its acquisition by Facebook, it’s an open question whether the hardware will be embraced by anyone aside from the hardcore gamers who seem its most avid supporters at the moment. And augmented reality is still a largely untested area, with adoption hinging largely on how well products such as HoloLens perform in the wild—and whether anyone actually decides to build apps to accompany the hardware.
A solid summary of Digi-Capital’s report (which is behind a paywall) is available on TechCrunch.