Virtual assistants to “pummel” virtual reality this holiday season

Virtual assistants such as Amazon’s Echo and Google Homeare set to “pummel” virtual reality (VR) headsets this Christmas, according to Reuters. The news agency interviewed nearly two dozen analysts who claim that estimates of what will be the big hit this season have changed.

Having previously called VR the" next mega tech theme,” in May 2015, Piper Jaffray willcut its 2016 estimate for sales of VR headsets by 65 per cent in an as yet unpublished report.

High-end VR headset sales will be at about 300,00, based on supply constraints of Sony’s PlayStation VR, and the necessity for an expensive PC to run an HTC Vive or Oculus Rift. Only about six-to-seven million computers globally can run the hardware, said Paul Lee of Deloitte UK: "With high-end VR for a family of four one might be looking at $10,000.”

Overall, Piper Jaffray now expects that only 2.2 million headsets will be sold, a significant decrease from its previous predictions. 

By contrast,Oppenheimer analyst Andrew Uerkwitz said: “Personal assistants are going to blow VR out of the water.”

He believes 10-to-12 million Google Home and Amazon Echo virtual personal assistants (VPAs) will be sold in the run to the festive season. 

Mark Beccue, an analyst at Tractica shares Uerkwitz’s belief, and said: “I saw one feature in a hackathon where you list items in the fridge then Alexa tells you here’s what you can make for dinner tonight." 

Wearables and drones are not likely sell as well as VPAs this Christmas, but the Consumer Technology Association does predict 12.6 million wearables will be sold this holiday season.

Drones are expected to provide good competition for VR, but will not be as successful as virtual personal assistants: “There are plenty of drones that are $100, $150, that would be more in competition with virtual reality than anything else in terms of appeal for the same age groups," Jean Baptiste Su, research analyst at Atherton Research said.

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