AR Use Will Grow 30% This Year, VR Will Grow 110%: eMarketer

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Taking its first look at the augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) video markets, research company eMarketer sees strong growth ahead in the U.S. In 2016, 30.7 million people used AR monthly, a number that will grow to 40.0 million in 2017 for a 30.2 percent increase. The company predicts 48.1 million users in 2018 and 54.4 million in 2019.

Those 40.0 million current AR users represent 12.3 percent of the U.S. population. In 2019, that will grow to 16.4 percent of the population. Most AR use comes from social networks.

“Users of Snapchat Lenses comprise the vast majority of our AR estimates,” says Chris Bendtsen, a forecasting analyst for eMarketer. “Snapchat growth will continue to contribute to AR users in the future, but in the next several years eMarketer also expects Facebook and Instagram Stories to be significant growth drivers of AR usage.”

AR enjoys stronger use in the U.S. than VR, and that will continue into the near future. In 2016, 10.7 million people viewed VR content monthly, which will grow to 22.4 million in 2017 (a 109.5 percent increase), 36.7 million in 2018, and 49.2 million in 2019. Most VR use is 360-degree photos and videos on YouTube and Facebook. In 2017, 9.6 million will view VR content through a headset, a category dominated by gaming. The high cost of headsets will keep adoption low, with only 2.9 percent of the population using a VR headset monthly this year. 

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