What was popularised by Google Earth is now easily available and affordable for consumers. That is the 360-degree camera, of course.
Demand for such cameras is expected to surge among prosumers and professionals. ABI Research expects professional grade cameras and mid-tier, prosumer 360-degree cameras to hit nearly two million shipments by 2021, with consumer 360-degree cameras to top four million by the same year.
“The most prominent force driving 360-degree video content and hardware is virtual reality (VR). And though VR has been experiencing a period of content starvation due to its novelty, small early install base, and the high cost of premium VR, support from major content platforms will lessen this for 360-degree video,” said Eric Abbruzzese, Senior Analyst of ABI Research.
360-degree video market activity is abundant across both consumer and enterprise applications. In regards to enterprise, Nokia already signed a multi-year deal with content giant Disney to use its OZO camera, and stated that VR and 360-degree video is a core business component as it restructures around forward-looking technologies and product line expansion.
Additionally, wearable camera market leader GoPro, experiencing a slowdown in its core market, has its own professional-grade, 360-degree multi-camera rig and will likely release a consumer-grade, 360-degree offering in the near future.
VR’s role in 360-degree video cannot be understated either. While viewing 360-degree content can be done on a computer or mobile device, the most compelling and natural viewing experience is in VR. And as the desire for content surges, ABI Research forecasts nearly 70 million mobile-based VR products to ship, such as Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR, by 2021.
“It is rare to see a culmination of factors as powerful as what’s happening for 360-degree cameras and video. Decreasing average selling prices for VR hardware and 360-degree cameras, the possibility for 360-degree camera integration with mobile devices, network and bandwidth improvements for 4K and HDR content that are also enhancing 360-degree video streaming, and a slowing wearable camera market all are creating a rich and promising next step for 360-degree video,” said Abbruzzese.