Canalys ( forecasts that standalone smart VR headset shipments will pass 1.5 million in 2018, and grow with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 140% to reach 9.7 million units in 2021.

Oculus, HTC and Lenovo are launching new standalone headsets aimed at different market segments, which will drive rapid market growth. Standalone VR headsets are expected to help push the VR headset market to 7.6 million units in 2018, twice the shipments forecast for this year, according to Canalys. The research group says Oculus made a big move by unveiling the Oculus Go, its first consumer-ready standalone smart VR headset during Oculus Connect 4 on 11 October 2017.

“Oculus Go, while a great move by Facebook to mobilize VR, will fail to get consumer attention when launched,” said Canalys Research Analyst Vincent Thielke. “The extra cost of the headset and the fact that a smartphone-based solution, such as the Gear VR, can offer a similar experience will inhibit initial consumer uptake. Also, missing the holiday season is a lost opportunity for Oculus to gain a strong base of early adopters. But there will be excitement for this new category of VR headsets, and Oculus must ensure that its next mobile VR prototype, Project Santa Cruz, succeeds in attaining a high quality level to remain relevant in VR.”

The recently announced HTC Vive Focus headset with six degrees-of-freedom (6DoF) tracking retails from CNY3,999 (US$600) in China, a similar price to a premium smartphone there.

“With its new Vive Focus, HTC is well placed to attract high-value consumers and, more importantly, businesses to its VR platform,” said Canalys Analyst Jason Low. “HTC is clearly not chasing volume, but moving toward the more important value segment, which is the future of VR. Consumer adoption of VR beyond gaming is still shaky but business use-cases are emerging quickly.”