ar/vr

Exclusive: Nearly one quarter of Americans have used a VR or AR headset

But just 28% of Americans said they’re excited about the tech.
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Dan McCarthy

· less than 3 min read

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Emerging Tech Brew polled America (again) a few weeks ago. Together with The Harris Poll, we surveyed a nationally representative group of 2,010 US adults about virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR).

Top-line takeaways

23% of Americans have tried a VR or AR headset, which is higher than what we were expecting. Of this group:

  • 31% own a headset, 24% have used a family member’s gear, and 13% have tried hardware provided by an experiential venue/retailer.
  • Millennials are the most prolific users, with 42% having tried the tech. Gen Z was the next-highest demo at 29%.
  • 90% of those who have tried a headset say they’re likely to use one again, with two-thirds saying they will definitely do so.

We didn’t break out the divide between trying an AR and a VR headset. Given the early development stage of AR hardware, it’s safe to assume that most respondents who have tried a headset did so with VR…

...But we did ask about mobile AR. 44% of consumers say they’ve used an AR feature on a smartphone. The demographic splits here are telling: 71% and 72% of Gen Z and Millennials, respectively, say they’ve used mobile AR. By comparison, 42% of Gen X and only 15% of Boomers have done so.

🔮Looking forward🔮

  • How excited are you? Compared with those who have tried a VR/AR device, the general public isn’t as enthusiastic about embracing the technology. 28% of all respondents say they’re excited about VR/AR, 28% say they’re neutral, and 34% are not excited.
  • How much would you pay? 41% would be willing to buy a headset; and one quarter of this group would be willing to pay $500 or more. For reference, the Oculus Quest 2 retails for $299.
  • To bundle or not to bundle? Of those interested in owning a headset eventually, 46% would prefer paying upfront with a lump-sum. 36% would prefer a monthly subscription fee; 18% would prefer to pay per session.
  • What’s your go-to brand? 35% named Apple as their first-choice company to buy a device from, while only 5% named Facebook.

Bottom line: Big Tech and many other metaverse aspirants are spending heavily to develop technologies that are far from must-haves for most consumers. But to paraphrase Steve Jobs, sometimes customers don’t know what they want until you show it to them.—RD

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