Just 13 million PCs worldwide next year will have the graphics capabilities needed to run VR, according to an estimate by Nvidia, the largest maker of computer graphics chips. Those ultra-high-end machines account for less than 1 percent of the 1.43 billion PCs expected to be in use globally in 2016, according to research firm Gartner.
VR headsets, which create immersive 3D environments the wearer can interact with and explore, are poised to be a star of CES 2016. The massive consumer electronics trade show, which kicks off in Las Vegas on Jan. 6, will have more than 40 exhibitors demonstrating VR products, a 77 percent increase from 2015. Taiwanese gadget maker HTC is expected to show off a new version of its Vive headset at CES before releasing it in stores in April. Facebook is still on track to sell its first VR product to consumers by the end of March, Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey tweeted on Dec. 22.
“I think the technology has significant potential, but I also think we have to be realistic about how strongly it will be adopted in the short term,” Piers Harding-Rolls, an analyst for researcher IHS, wrote in an e-mail. “The hype is somewhat understandable considering the investment some big technology companies are making in VR. However, VR headsets come to market with a number of specific challenges.”
IHS estimates that 7 million VR headsets will be in use by the end of 2016. The Consumer Technology Association, which organizes CES, forecasts VR headset sales of 1.2 million units in 2016. While that's a sixfold increase from last year with total revenue of $540 million, that’s a ways short of covering the $2 billion Facebook paid for Oculus VR in 2014.