It doesn’t hurt to be a part of the Alphabet (formerly Google) family when it’s time to get things done and Google’s cardboard virtual reality (VR) viewer and YouTube are set for an epic adventure together.
YouTube and Cardboard together
Nearly everyone, it seems, has a smartphone these days. More and more people order Google’s Cardboard, a no-nonsense approach to VR by turning your smartphone into the viewer, each day. Nearly one in six people in the world visit YouTube to watch videos each month. Collectively that over billion people audience stream hundreds of millions of hours of video over a month’s time.
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As far as who will be responsible for a push in VR viewing, you may not need to look much further than YouTube.
“YouTube is about democratizing,” said Kurt Wilms, senior product manager for YouTube VR. “It’s about bringing this kind of video to everyone.”
Thursday’s announcement from YouTube
YouTube announced that each 360 video on the site will now be viewable in 3D. But, perhaps even more impressive is the fact that YouTube will make every video in its library viewable on Cardboard. You simply play a video on the Android YouTube app and press the Cardboard icon. This will immediately reformat the stream and present the videos in an IMAX-like format. While YouTube and Google plan to release this feature for iOS, they’ve yet to tell anybody when that will happen.
And there you have it, in one bold swoop YouTube has just become the largest library of VR movies in the known universe. Take that Facebook and Samsung. Your efforts in VR tech may end well, but they will come after YouTube’s efforts. Sure Facebook shelled-out $2 billion in 2014 for Oculus. Sure Oculus created the Gear VR which turns Samsung phones into VR viewers for $99, but that’s four times the price of Google’s Cardboard ($25).
While virtual reality is still in its infancy, it’s growing up fast.