Virtual reality could generate $2B this year: Report

A man sits in a 'Whiplash' chair at the Gear VR pop-up store of Samsung in Amsterdam, on February 25, 2016.
Koen van Weel | AFP | Getty Images

Virtual reality hardware could generate as much as $2.3 billion in revenue around the world this year, a new report said.

The report, published Thursday by market intelligence firm International Data Corporation, is the firm's first global forecast for the virtual and augmented reality markets. It's at least the second this year to forecast an impending VR boom: in January, Goldman Sachs said the combined VR and augmented reality markets could grow into an $80 billion industry by 2025.

IDC says enthusiasm for VR — which has been drummed up by industry leaders like Samsung, Sony, HTC, and Oculus — will help push sales of hardware past 9.6 million units in 2016.

"In 2016, virtual reality will catapult into the spotlight with major launches from Oculus, HTC/Valve, and Sony building on the early momentum created by Samsung's first smartphone-based product," Tom Mainelli, IDC vice president for devices and displays, said in the report.

"When you combine this with robust shipments of screenless viewers from Samsung and other vendors launching later this year, you start to see the beginning of a reasonable installed base for content creators to target."

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While a motley of industries, ranging from healthcare to sports to education, have considered how VR could revolutionize business, the market's growth is still being driven predominantly by one crowd: Gaming enthusiasts.

Video games are "the lead rationale for people to pick up an Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, or PlayStation VR this year," Lewis Ward, IDC research director of gaming, said in the report.

Companies rolling out new virtual reality games this year could see interest perk up in their VR headsets, especially during the holiday season.

By 2020, IDC says, there could be as many as 64.8 million units of virtual reality hardware shipped around the world — an 183.8 percent increase from the firm's 2016 estimates.