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AR, VR Spend Expected to Double in Western Europe

Forecast to reach $2.5 billion in 2017

Spending on augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) hardware, software and services in Western Europe will reach $2.5 billion in 2017, a 131% increase over the $1.1 billion spent in 2016, according to a new forecast by the International Data Corporation (IDC).

IDC expects the consumer market will be the largest AR/VR spending segment this year, accounting for more than 56% of spend in Western Europe, with those outlays devoted primarily to VR goods and services. Consumers will contribute less than 20% of AR-related spending, according to IDC.

Augmented/Virtual Reality Market Share in Western Europe, by Industry, 2017 (% of total)

The manufacturing and retail sectors are expected to contribute the next largest shares of spending, driven by investments in AR-related products and services.

In terms of industrial use cases, industrial maintenance (manufacturing), logistics and package delivery management (transportation) and product development (manufacturing) will lead AR/VR spending in Western Europe this year, according to the IDC forecast.

But retail showcasing and anatomy diagnostics (retail and healthcare, respectively) will be the fastest growing industrial use cases over the next few years.

On the consumer side, games will be the leader in industry growth—IDC predicated both AR and VR games are expected to experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) above 220%.

For IDC’s consumer spending expectations to be achieved, the demand for VR/AR products and services will need to expand rapidly. However, according to a GfK study of internet users polled in Western Europe last summer—around the time when the AR-enabled Pokémon Go mobile game exploded into popularity—less than 6% of respondents across seven countries in the region said they planned to buy a VR device in the coming year.

Internet Users in Western Europe Who Plan to Buy a Virtual Reality Device, by Country, Summer 2016 (% of respondents)

There’s been little if any consumer buzz around AR or VR since then. Yet as Pokémon Go’s inordinately rapid success showed, provided the right experience—and the right price point—consumers seem willing to give the technologies a try.

“[AR/VR] devices have been around for a while, but now we are seeing the right combination of content, components, investment and awareness in place for the quantity and quality of the experiences to become a driver for adoption,” said Francisco Almeida, IDC’s senior research analyst for mobile devices and AR/VR.

“On the VR side, companies understood that there is much more potential than just gaming, and new content [and] services around storytelling and interaction are beginning to surface,” Almeida said. “AR will continue to have an enterprise focus for the time being.”

Overall spending of AR and VR is forecast achieve a CAGR of 210% between 2015 and 2020, totaling $25.7 billion in 2020, according to IDC. The manufacturing, retail and utilities sectors are expected to expand their investments the fastest, with CAGRs of around 220% each.

Hardware—including both viewers and commercial hosts—currently represents more than 80% of AR/VR spending in Western Europe, but software and services spending will surge, representing more than half of overall AR/VR dollars in 2020.

—Cliff Annicelli

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