The computer graphics industry has been a growth industry since it was established in the late 1970s. It has weathered the storms of recessions and has emerged renewed vigor and potential, partly due to a big boost from mobile and the move to 4K, but also from emerging technologies including 3D scanning, 3D printing, augmented reality, and VR.
The computer graphics hardware market was worth $120 billion in 2013 and is expected to exceed $149 billion by 2017, with software growing slightly slower than hardware.
The hardware segment of the CG industry has had steady growth, with the exception of gaming PC sales, which dropped by 3 % over the past year. The largest growth has been in workstations and monitors, with (the already high) mobile graphics segment coming in a strong third. Gaming PCs have had steady to strong growth, and the total PC gaming hardware market (which includes aftermarket sales and peripherals) is estimated to be worth over $30 billion. New activity in APIs with developments like AMD's Mantle, Google's driver extensions for OpenGL ES, Apple's Metal, and the promise of DirectX 12 in 2015 all will contribute to faster, richer, and higher resolution graphics for everyone.
In 2013 the CG software market was worth $14 billion (not counting services, maintenance and other aspects) and is expected to grow to $17 billion by 2017 as the industry shakes off the remaining effects of the recession and starts upgrading software tools. The software suppliers (ISVs) have also changed their sales model moving more services to the cloud.
We will see the development of traditional segments like CAD/CAM expand as new design approaches in automotive, aerospace, and architecture are adopted. The visualization market is showing significant growth due to the availability of more powerful and less expensive visualization technologies. GPU compute employing OpenCL and CUDA is penetrating further into new as well as traditional applications.
The software content creation market has been tough for the market leaders. They're living with a mature market, with little growth, but stability among the competitors. However, there are new opportunities emerging as new approaches to content creation become practical, new distribution channels open up, and young generations arrive with a new fascination for 3D.
The demand for programmers, artists, scientists, and designers has picked up and we're seeing startups arrive in emerging and reborn markets such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and casual games. The arrival of new APIs, and platforms are also stimulating development. Firms are actively looking for people who can use and exploit these new programs and their associated hardware accelerators.
New opportunities are also growing out of mainstream applications for the web and consumer applications. The social web remains a strong engine for growth. Social networks are encouraging people to learn new tools, create content for pleasure, and even look for jobs in the field. What used to be a very closed society of experts is now opening up due to the democratization of CG, fueled by Moore's law and price-elasticity due to lower software costs.
Given the trends in dropping costs, and the increasing users and usage of CG tools and hardware, we predict that the rate of growth for the CG industry will remain fairly steady for the foreseeable future. Computer graphics is truly a worldwide industry now. JPR will have a press only discussion on this topic at SIGGRAPH in Vancouver BC on August 13th at noon – all press are invited.