While the COVID-19 pandemic crippled some markets, it also presented notable opportunities to others. Similar to the uptick products like Zoom and Microsoft Teams have seen, Augmented Reality (AR) has been forced into opportunity around remote worker enablement, compounding the already strong growth seen in the enterprise thanks to high-value use cases like remote assistance, training, and workflow instruction.
Combine this with an increasingly viable consumer AR market over the next few years, the market potential is significant. ABI Research, a global tech market advisory firm, estimates the augmented reality market will surpass $140 billion in total market value in 2025.
“While enterprise usage has dominated the augmented reality conversation over the past few years, the tides are shifting. All of the tech companies that can shift markets on a global scale are directly involved in AR already, and many are planning more dedicated AR hardware efforts over the next two to three years,” said Eric Abbruzzese, research director for ABI Research. “This will eventually switch the leading AR market from enterprise to consumer, benefitting both sides through increased competition and maturity.”
Growth patterns around AR hardware and content will back this up over the next five years. Media & Entertainment along with Retail & Marketing are the fastest-growing verticals; Consumer Software & Content and AR Advertising are the fastest growing market segments.
“That said, enterprise growth isn’t slowing down. Healthcare, AEC, manufacturing, and automotive all promise growth between 70% and 90% CAGR through 2025,” Abbruzzese said. “There will not be the same rapid influx of users that the consumer market will see, but increased hardware options coming from that market will spur further adoption, as will a higher familiarity around AR content and technology.”
According to ABI Research, Apple’s AR ecosystem is quite mature today, with AR-focused LIDAR sensors on flagship iOS products and ARKit enabling experiences across content types. Google recently acquired smart glasses maker North and Google still have its Glass for an Enterprise solution and ARCore for content enablement. Facebook announced continuing AR efforts out of their Reality Labs branch, with smart glasses plans for 2021. Efforts from more traditionally enterprise-focused players continue to grow as well; PTC, Atheer, Microsoft, Lenovo, Teamviewer, and many others are increasing AR investment and focus, often tweaking pricing structures and business models to both meet the short term demand influx and scale that demand over time; free trials, as-a-service bundling options, and greater portfolio flexibility have all been spurred by COVID-19 and are likely to remain.
“Facebook, Google, and Apple have been building out AR foundations in content creation and mobile device enablement for years, with visions for a ubiquitous AR market by 2025,” said Abbruzzese. “All this consumer growth benefits the enterprise domain as well, with key AR requirements around the price, ease of use, and overall user value shared among both sides of the market. The latent value of remote enablement AR provides has been expounded, and similar needs in the consumer space will also spur adoption there. These all combine to create significant momentum around AR, rather than the common excitement yet hesitation and immaturity of years before.”