The researchers at SuperData have sent on their latest figures, which show Samsung's Gear VR easily ahead of all other VR headsets on the market. In Q1 of this year, Gear VR sold 782,000 units. And for the full year, SuperData estimates that Samsung will manage 6.7 million, in part due to momentum generated by the Galaxy S8.
Stephanie Llamas, head of VR/AR at SuperData told GamesIndustry.biz, "Samsung has said that the S8 is their best launch ever, outpacing the S7. A large portion of last year's 4.5 million Gear VR shipments came from S7 pre-orders, so we anticipate the S8's success will get even more devices into consumers' hands. It's far more affordable than PC or console headsets and is compatible with a larger share of mobile devices than Google's Daydream. Daydream will eventually present competition for the Gear, but not yet."
Daydream sold 170,000 units in Q1 and is expected to reach a very respectable 3.5 million by year-end. While SuperData remains very bullish on Gear VR, analysts at IHS Markit are actually predicting a slight decline in 2017 for Samsung's product. The firm's new report forecasts 4.1 million units sold for Gear VR this year, which would represent a nearly 10% drop from 2016. IHS Markit's full-year estimate for Daydream is lower than SuperData's as well at 2.2 million.
With increasing competition from Daydream and a higher price point for the new Gear VR with controller, IHS Markit just doesn't see Gear VR growing the way SuperData does. "In 2016, Samsung used its Gear VR headset as a powerful marketing tool to promote sales of its Galaxy S7 smartphone and implemented appropriate pre-order bundling strategies across many sales territories. In 2017, Samsung has taken a more targeted approach retaining the offer for the launch of the Galaxy S8 in USA and Australia, but dropping it in a number of European territories," the firm noted.
Analyst Piers Harding-Rolls added, "The arrival of competing platforms is playing out against a backdrop where Samsung has dialed down its previously aggressive pre-order bundling centered on its flagship smartphones and the Gear VR."
Looking at the other headsets, Sony managed to sell another 375,000 PSVR units in Q1, according to SuperData, and the company believes it's on track to sell 2.6 million in 2017, but interestingly Sony hasn't been actively promoting PSVR as much lately. "Sony has been more vocal about the PSVR being about VR, not games. They are working with companies for commercial applications, even though it is not the obvious first choice," Llamas told us. "But even the PlayStation is part of a larger effort to bring an entertainment ecosystem into the home - not just gaming experiences. They are going to the same route with the PSVR."
It's also worth noting that, even with a price cut for Oculus in late February, the Rift could not outsell HTC Vive in Q1. The Vive sold 95,000 compared to 64,000 for the Rift. For the full year, SuperData anticipates Vive to outsell Rift, 553,000 vs 346,000 units. Llamas attributes this success in part to HTC's open approach to the marketplace.
"It's not about price," she said. "Facebook is a digital services company, not a hardware company. Oculus is a brand new OEM. The manufacturing challenges have proven enormous for them, forcing them to hire former Fitbit COO Hans Hartmann this time last year. But this plus bad press, their Zenimax lawsuit and closed ecosystem comes from their 'Oculus first' mentality, making it much harder for them to compete with HTC Vive, which has always been 'VR first'. HTC Vive didn't get as caught up in focusing on games either - they have long supported all aspects of VR development, so Oculus is behind them there."