Samsung Gear VR is the Top Virtual Reality Headset in the World by Shipment Numbers


Sometimes it pays to be a pioneer. At least that is the feeling one gets after looking at data from last year (2016) on shipments of virtual reality headsets in the world.

Thanks to being the first to hit the market with its mobile virtual reality headset, the Gear VR, since November 2015, Samsung has been able to capture the most market share in the just emerging VR category.

With over 4.5 million Gear VR units being shipped in 2016, Samsung shipped more pieces of the Gear VR in one year than all its rivals combined. And the rivals are not just some small no-name brands from China. They are the who’s who of consumer electronics in the world today. Sony with its PlayStation VR, HTC with the Vive and VR-focused company Oculus which is now owned by Facebook with the Rift.

While both the PlayStation VR and the HTC Vive (yes, this one was a hit with its targeted upper class market even with its high $800 price) managed to post excellent sales numbers and even surpass expectations, their numbers are not a match to Samsung’s favourably-priced VR headset.

Pricing is a huge factor when it comes to VR headsets considering the investment one has to make if they are to go with any of the other options available in the market from HTC, Sony and Oculus.

The 3 VR headset makers offer devices that are not standalone i.e. require several other secondary devices in order to function as intended. In the case of the PS VR it is a PlayStation console and in the case of the Rift and the Vive it is a desktop computer powerful enough to handle the demands of a VR headset. In the case of Samsung’s Gear VR? Just one of the few compatible high-end Samsung smartphones.

Indeed the latter is the reason why Google’s rollout of Daydream VR which is open to more device makers will likely give Samsung’s VR headset a run for its money this year as it will be compatible with more devices while Samsung’s VR platform and its accompanying gear is still limited to a handful of compatible premium devices released by the company, something we noted very well in our in-depth review of the gadget. The Daydream VR is even cheaper!

So, how do the numbers look like? Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Samsung Gear VR: 4.5 million units
  • PlayStation VR: 750,000 units
  • HTC Vive: 420,000 units
  • Oculus Rift: 250,000 units

In May 2016, the Gear VR reached a milestone: Samsung had sold 1 million units. Just last month at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the company revealed that it had sold 5 million Gear VR headsets since launch.

The Gear VR’s impressive numbers last year may also have been aided by the fact that Samsung pretty much gave away several units free of charge to “first-in-line” buyers of its popular 2016 flagship smartphones, the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge.

So what are all those people buying virtual reality gear up to? Definitely playing games and acting like walking zombies in their living rooms, right? Wrong! While definitely games are some of the best things about virtual reality and players end up getting attached the most to VR headsets, just 44% of the VR market is dominated by games.