6.8% of smartphones are ready for VR

191m devices compatible with Gear VR and Google Daydream, but headset sales are drastically behind

By James Batchelor.Published Wednesday 19th April 2017, 1:17pm GMT

Research from Newzoo shows that just under 200m of the world's smartphones are capable of supporting virtual reality experiences.

In a recent post, the research firm claimed that 191m smartphones - 6.8% of the 2.8bn devices Newzoo claims are in the hands of consumers - are compatible with key VR headsets: namely, the Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream.

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184.4m smartphones can support Gear VR (6.6% of the worldwide installed base), while 5.6m (0.2%) will work with the more recently released Daydream. These two devices represent the high-end of mobile VR, offering experiences closer to the likes of Oculus Rift and HTC Vive than the more primitive Google Cardboard.

It means that the potential addressable market for virtual reality developers creating mobile titles is 191m. However, headset sales have yet to come close to matching this.

Back in January, 14 months after Gear VR debuted, Samsung reported that 5m headsets have been sold worldwide - that's just 2.7% of the smartphones capable of working with Gear, according to Newzoo.

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Newzoo noted the lack of a certain major smartphone firm in the space is also limiting the potential for VR on mobile.

"If Apple were to launch a high-end VR device, compatibility with the iPhone 6S and 7 series would be enough to have a significantly bigger addressable market for mobile VR than Samsung," the firm wrote. "9.4% [for Apple] versus 6.6% [for Samsung]."

The US was identified as the region with the most potential for high-end mobile virtual reality, accounting for 13.8m (12%) of the world's VR-ready smartphones.

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