Booming Chinese VR headset market could be tough for Oculus, HTC, Samsung and Sony to crack

A new report from Canalys predicts that vendors will ship 6.3 million virtual reality headsets worldwide in 2016, of which 40 per cent will be in China.

VR has the potential to thrive in the country and Canalys believes competition will be fierce this year.

The firm said barriers to enter the VR market have been lowered, with local vendors releasing VR headsets that overcome the quality and performance issues of simple viewers, such as Samsung’s Gear VR and Google’s Cardboard.

“The competition is around the user experience, hardware quality and content. Currently, there isn’t a clear leader for VR content in China. Local content providers, game publishers and service providers are racing to exercise their influence on the development of VR beyond hardware. Numerous Chinese vendors are exhibiting their VR headsets at CES Asia 2016 this week,” said Canalys Analyst Jason Low.

“Attendees are willing to suffer long queues to experience the VR demonstrations. Leading Chinese vendors such as DeePoon, Pico, Pimax and Idealens are attracting the most interest from consumers.”

Low believes that CES Asia has become a great platform for local VR vendors to demonstrate and let users try their products, but warned that there is ‘still a huge challenge to translate that into product sales and the creation of content’.

“Canalys believes that though inexpensive, simple viewers appeal to many consumers, vendors must look beyond these to more advanced VR headsets, where the longer-term opportunity lies,” said Low.

“The Chinese market is highly fragmented and vendors such as Huawei and DeePoon are moving quickly to form partnerships. Local VR ecosystem companies need to move fast before international vendors, such as HTC, Oculus and Sony, get a foothold.”

Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), recently shared his thoughts on the tech retail market ahead of CES Asia.

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