Clay Bavor, the Google VP previously in charge of Google Cardboard and various Google apps, has just been appointed to head up a newly created virtual reality division at Google. The shift demonstrates just how serious Google is getting about VR.
While Google Cardboard was a runaway success, especially with schools and its partnership with GoPro to create 360-degree video for YouTube, it always felt like Google was playing with virtual reality, but not really committed to it. By appointing a high level exec to run its new dedicated VR department, things are about to change.
The news comes as a clear response to the gains in the VR space that rivals like Microsoft, Sony, HTC and Facebook’s Oculus have enjoyed recently, unchallenged by Google. Google has entered the game a bit late to compete with the first couple of generations of consumer virtual reality headsets, but the company clearly sees value in the space.
HTC Chairwoman, Cher Wang recently confessed that HTC sees VR as a bigger opportunity than mobile. With Facebook and Sony charging full steam ahead with virtual reality, Google was always going to get on board sooner or later.
What Google has planned for its new virtual reality division we’ll just have to wait and see, but it might be several years before Google has something ready for prime time in the VR arena. By that time, Facebook, Microsoft, HTC and Sony will all have had their VR experiences in the marketplace for some time.