Google has formed a new division dedicated to virtual reality (VR) to take on Facebook, Samsung and Microsoft. Also CEO Sundar Pichai has selected one of his deputies, Clay Bavor, to run the division. Competition is getting much more intense in the emerging virtual reality space, and Google is surely gearing up for it.
Google investing heavily in VR
Re/code was the first to report this development. Bavor is the vice president for product management at the Internet firm and was responsible for running apps such as Gmail and Drive. Diane Greene, an enterprise software veteran and a board member at Google, will now be handling Bavor’s responsibility.
Google had made a huge investment in Cardboard – a $20 holder that transforms a smartphone into a 3D viewing device. This device is both inexpensive and accessible and aims to bring mobile virtual reality to the masses. The Internet firm also recently brought 360-degree videos to YouTube in partnership with GoPro.
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Google also invested in augmented reality company Magic Leap. This company makes eyeglasses that project computer generated images onto real life. The Internet firm is rumored to be building a version of Android for virtual reality devices.
Gartner research director Brian Blau said, “I think Google has been serious about VR, and I think they are getting more serious.”
VR – the next big thing
Presently, there are very few virtual reality devices in the market. Samsung’s $99 Gear VR Powered by Oculus is the first virtual reality device at a populist price. Facebook will start shipping its Oculus Rift in March for $599. The headset will include built-in headphones and a microphone, sensor and Xbox One controller.
CES 2016 was dominated by talks of 360-degree video and virtual reality. YouTube’s Chief Business Officer, Robert Kyncl, said virtual reality will bring a dramatic change to the mobile viewing experience and that we can expect it to grow exponentially.
“VR has a bright future, but it can’t happen in a vacuum. It’s going to take the major ecosystem providers like Google to put their resources into it to push this technology forward,” Blau said.
On Tuesday, Alphabet shares closed down 1.67% at $745.34. Year to date, the stock is down by over 4%, while in the last month, it is down by almost 1%.