As virtual and augmented reality mature, both technologies are gaining traction among consumers and businesses. However, they are growing at different rates. This report provides our latest forecasts for virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) users in the US, and examines some of the market dynamics that are shaping the evolutions of both immersive technologies.
What’s the difference between VR and AR?
Though we release our forecasts for VR and AR at the same time, they are distinct technologies with different use cases. VR places users in virtual worlds and often requires the use of specialized headsets, while AR involves overlaying computer-generated information onto existing real-world views and is largely accessible via everyday mobile devices. VR is the more mature of the two technologies, but has fewer users.
How many people in the US will use virtual and augmented reality in 2019?
We anticipate that 42.9 million people will use VR and 68.7 million will use AR at least once per month. This represents 13.0% and 20.8% of the population, respectively.
How are this year’s forecasts different from last year’s?
Since we released our 2018 forecasts, we have revised our VR user estimates downward and our AR user estimates upward to reflect changing market dynamics. We have also added a new metric, “social network AR users,” to capture the use of AR features within social networks such as Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.
Why are there more AR users than VR users in the US?
AR applications are increasingly accessible via everyday mobile devices and have the potential to make people’s lives easier. In addition to the breakout success of Pokémon Go in 2016, the introduction of Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore software development kits (SDKs) in 2017 signaled the tech industry’s confidence in—and ongoing support of—AR experiences. This is spurring developers to accelerate activity and create more applications.
WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report includes our 2017-2021 forecast for VR and AR users in the US and an analysis of the forces shaping the growth of these technologies.
KEY STAT: This year, 42.9 million people in the US will use VR, and 68.7 million people will use AR at least once per month.
eMarketer's US VR and AR user forecasts are updated annually to continually incorporate the latest changes and developments in consumers’ adoption of VR and AR technology. Our forecasting methodology is based on the analysis of more than 450 survey and traffic metrics from 78 sources, including research firms and regulatory agencies, sales projections, historical trends, company-specific data and demographic and socioeconomic factors. Our methodology incorporates ongoing qualitative trends and changes in major company initiatives, partnerships and innovations to deliver an accurate estimate of how VR and AR technology adoption is expected to evolve.