Google has made a few moves, including appointing of a head of virtual reality, over the last month that point to a greater commitment to VR in the future, and today Google’s blog is highlighting how far it has come with VR already.
Google Cardboard is unquestionably the most widely used VR platform in history, with over 5 million having shipped since the launch 19 months ago. It may not be remotely the equal of the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, or even Samsung’s Gear VR, but it is still capable of delivering amazing experiences at a fraction of the cost of anything else on the market.
There are now over 1,000 Google Cardboard compatible apps in Google Play and over 25 million Cardboard apps have been installed from Google Play, with 10 million of those coming in the period from October to December. The top 5 apps for Cardboard are Chair in A Room, Vrse, Lamper VR: Firefly Rescue, Caaaaardboard! and Proton Pulse.
Over 350,000 hours of YouTube content have been watched in VR and since the launch of Cardboard Camera in December, and over 750,000 VR photos have been captured with it.
Highlighting the educational opportunity offered by Cardboard, over half a million students have now used it to take a virtual field trip with Google Expeditions.
These are impressive statistics for something that many people assumed was a joke when it first launched. In an exclusive interview with Time today, Clay Bavor, the aforementioned new VR head for Google, had a few comments on the future of VR at Google. When asked about new higher-end Cardboard “hardware,” he made it clear that Google’s primary focus was on making sure that everyone could have access to VR, but that Cardboard in its current form is “not the end of the line.” “I think if you imagine the types of things that a company with the ambition and the technical resources and the know-how of Google would be working on, we’re working on a lot of those things,” he said.
While Google may not be pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with VR right now, it is positioning itself as the company that delivers VR to the masses, and that is potentially an incredibly valuable place to be at the dawn of mainstream VR.