Chinese AR start-up Nreal reaches 81% global consumer AR shipment share in 1H2022
The global consumer AR device market tripled from 2020-2021, and will reach just under 60 million shipments globally in 2027, according to a Strategy Analytics report published on August 12.
The AR device market has long been dominated by enterprise devices, such as Microsoft’s HoloLens. The pattern is being challenged as consumer AR products began to rise, per the report. Chinese start-up Nreal is considered the forerunner in the industry, since the 5 years old company’s market share of consumer AR shipments has just rose to 81% in 1H 2022, from 75% in 2021.
According to Strategy Analytics, factors attributing to Nreal’s success include its low price range, smartphone pairing approach, advanced optical technology, and partnership with carriers
Nreal was founded in January 2017 by Xu Chi, a MagicLeap veteran. The company has been banked by several high-profile venture capital firms such as Sequoia China, Hillhouse Capital, Nio Capital, Kuaishou, iQiyi, Hongtai Aplus and others. In this March, Nreal announced the completion of its 60 million USD series C+ financing, led by Alibaba.
Despite its Chinese roots, the company has largely focused on overseas markets in the past years and has yet to release products in China. Nreal will release its new AR headset for the first time in China on August 23, which will be for sale on Chinese e-commerce platforms, according to a Kuai Technology report.
Nreal’s founder Xu Chi says that compared with Europe, America, Japan and South Korea, the maturity of China’s AR market is relatively low, according to a Jiemian report citing Xu.
In order to make users truly accept AR products, there need to be applications which showcases the innovative experience brought by AR. Nreal is cooperating with content platforms such as Chinese video streaming platform iQiyi to launch applications for AR glasses in order to improve the richness of content.
The current AR market is similar to the smartphone industry in 2007, which is at an turning point and the underlying technology is starting to mature, and there are great opportunities for Chinese companies under the new changes, says Xu.