Yesterday, Microsoft announced the arrival of the HoloLens headset for developers in the UK, following on from the likes of Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, which have been available to purchase for some time now.
However, a recent report from Strategy Analytics suggests that very few Britons will end up buying premium VR headsets while a bulk of buyers will go for cheaper headsets like the Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR.
“Despite the rush of companies eager to jump in, the reality is that VR take-up among the British public will be a slow burn and dominated by low-cost headsets. The VR headset market will be much like the car market – most owning the likes of Vauxhalls and Fords, a handful owning Porsches and the odd few splashing out on a Ferrari,” said David MacQueen from Strategy Analytics’ global wireless practice.
Overall revenues generated by sales of VR headsets in the UK this year will top £62 million, a bulk of which will comprise of cheaper headsets which allow smartphones to be tucked inside. Aside from the Cardboard and Gear VR, a large number of cheap VR headsets are available to purchase and these feature unique design and advanced features to give users a bang for their buck.
The likes of Oculus Rift and HTC Vive require high-end PCs to run and this may be a turn off for a large number of users who prefer not to spend large sums on VR headsets, especially at a time when VR hasn't become essential part of our lives. The Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR cost £659, £770 and £350 respectively which makes the £10 Google Cardboard VR headset a bargain for VR beginners.
"The experience of a Google Cardboard versus an HTC Vive is as different as listening to a car stereo versus being in the front row of a concert,” says MacQueen. Yet, despite the differences in quality of VR experiences, only 10% of the UK population is expected to buy VR headsets by 2018, a number which will rise to 25% by 2019. “Despite the slow start, there’s a real opportunity in the longer term.
VR can bring new experiences to people beyond the obvious next step in video games. There’s also watching sport right in amongst the action, enhanced communications and social networking, plus more serious uses such as better educational materials for kids or use in architecture and design,” MacQueen concludes.
While the future looks really promising for headset-makers, the likes of Oculus, HTC and Sony won't be able to sell as many headsets in the UK this year or next as they expected.