All projections for the growth of virtual reality are relatively high, but based on the current state of the market, that growth has a long way to go. Despite all the promotions and demonstrations at shows like CES and at various stores in malls, most people don’t have a VR headset.

Only 5% of Internet users in North America have a VR headset and even fewer in other markets, according to a new report from GlobalWebIndex (GWI). Globally, only 3% of Internet users have a VR headset. Here’s the penetration by region:

  • 5% — North America
  • 3% — Asia Pacific
  • 3% — Europe
  • 3% — Latin America
  • 2% — Middle East and Africa

Each year, GWI interviews more than 350,000 Internet users aged 16 to 64 across 40 markets, Chase Buckle, senior trends analysts at GlobalWebIndex told me. This report is based on 89,000 Internet users in that same age group.

By age, there are more VR headset owners in North America from those 35 to 44 years old. Here’s the North American VR headset ownership level by age:

  • 7% — 35-44 years old
  • 6% — 16-24 years old
  • 6% — 25-34 years old
  • 3% — 45 to 54 years old
  • 1% — 55 to 64 years old

While the percentages are relatively low, the actual number of VR headsets is relatively high. For example, 2 million VR headsets were shipped just in the last quarters, according to IDC. VR ownership in North America has a 60-40 split between male and female, according to GWI.

VR ownership also varies by usage. For example, 12% of PlayStation 4 users already have a VR headset, according to GlobalWebIndex. Anyone who has experienced any high quality virtual reality likely sees the potential.

Virtual reality has been around for many years, waiting for technology to advance enough to make it more viable for the masses. It is getting better but, outside of gaming, virtual reality is still somewhat of a solo experience.

However, practical uses, such as looking at high end real estate properties, as I recently wrote about here (Real Estate Firm Adding Virtual Reality To Every Office), are starting to come to market.

It won’t be the technology that drives virtual reality. It will be actual, practical uses that make virtual reality a method rather than a destination.

Article By Chuck Martin