Google Touts Its VR Successes

Posted on February 28, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Android, iOS, Mobile with 10 Comments

Google Touts Its VR Successes

Google today revealed that its virtual reality (VR) initiatives are more successful than many had realized. Augmented reality (AR)? Not so much.

“AR and VR aren’t just for gaming,” Google’s Amit Singh writes in a new post to the Google VR blog. “They’re also for amazing entertainment experiences that immerse you in the stuff you love like never before.”

For what I believe is the first time, Google put some numbers behind its assertions. To date, it has sold over 10 million Cardboard viewers around the world, and there have been over 160 million downloads of Cardboard-compatible apps on Google Play alone. (Cardboard also works with iPhone.) Most impressive, 30 of those apps have been downloaded over 1 million times each.

Google’s most recent VR product, Daydream, hasn’t been so successful, however, most likely because it is limited to such a small range of handsets. (Cardboard is both less expensive and more compatible.) But Google notes that Daydream users do spend more time with the peripheral than do Cardboard users, or about 40 minutes per week. The top activity? Watching videos, in particular 360-degree videos on YouTube.

To enhance the value of Daydream, Google is slowing expanding compatibility to new handsets. And it is partnering to bring more premium content to the device. This week, Google says, the new Sky app is joining Hulu, Netflix, and HBO to offer high-quality VR video on Daydream.

Google also briefly discussed its Tango AR (augmented reality) efforts, but it appears that the limited reach of this product—there are literally only two compatible handsets—has likewise limited its appeal so far.


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Comments (10)

10 responses to “Google Touts Its VR Successes”

  1. david.thunderbird

    Still won't work with tablets, where the mass market and 200$ phones are dwelling.

  2. Chris_Kez

    Technically, Google says over 10 million units shipped. The New York Times alone has given away at least 1.3 million viewers.

    With an addressable market of 1 billion plus devices, and a very low barrier to entry (prices start at $15), I'm frankly not very impressed with 10 million units shipped in 2.5 years. Tell me how many units are still in regular use after one month.

    • jmeiii75

      In reply to Chris_Kez:

      Good point. The only reason I have a Daydream in the first place is that It was a given away free with the pre-order of the Pixel and Pixel XL. Truth be told, I have only I used it a handful of time and it has been sitting idle for a couple of months.

  3. Bats

    This clearly shows that no one cares about AR or Augmented Reality. The reason is simple, there is no practical use for it at the consumer level. Microsoft should take note, because they are clearly hedging their bets on this. You know what? HoloLens is practically DOA because of that big price tag. It will be interesting to see if the PC makers can help. However success will come down to marketing. The one company that will spend the money for marketing is Samsung. They have the complete digital ecosystem that can actually convince people that AR is practical and useful for their lives. If and when AR platform does, it will be the cheaper platform that will prevail.

  4. Chris_Kez

    Who wouldn't want to buy into this?

  5. Mark from CO



    I don't share your confidence about Microsoft's AR/MR strategy, particularly the view I thought I heard you articulate on Windows Weekly that the cancellation of HoloLens 2.0 and the jump to 3.0 in 2019 was good. Essentially, Microsoft is so far ahead in AR that it can focus on the next big leap.


    Your article is just one of many examples where Microsoft’s competitors take the more mundane turtle approach by continually moving the bar until the rabbit (Microsoft) realizes it’s too late, and discovers it has lost both its lead in the underlying technology, but more important lost the market to the turtle (Google).


    Google will continue to slowly improve its VR/MR products. In 2-3 years, you don’t think they will have something very effective to compete with HoloLens 3.0? But even if Google’s product is inferior, Google will have built the market and brand loyalty. The barrier to entry to Microsoft will be very high. Kinda like what we’ve seen in most other consumer niche markets the last 2-3 years.  


    Of course, Microsoft could build whatever they have to work on Android. But that is what lowly OEMS do, right?


    In all we have seen the last few years, it’s clear Microsoft doesn’t have a clue what it is doing in the consumer market. Long term, Microsoft may well loose enterprise share as all these lost consumers begin demanding (BYOD) business IT departments better serve what they use.


    Mark from CO

    • GeekWithKids

      In reply to Mark from CO:

      I think you are missing a key component of Mmicrosoft's stratagy.

      There will be a number of Windows based VR headsets launched this year, after the Creator's update ships with the built in support for Windows Holigraphic the engine for Microsofts VR and AR solutions. So while they are pushing Hololens back they aren't leaving VR to Google's Daydream. They will be competing with them with the 299 VR headset from Lenovo, Dell and a bunch of others.

      Will it work? who knows but it's important to remember that Hololens is just the Highend tip of Microsofts VR/AR plans.

      • Mark from CO

        In reply to GeekWithKids:

        I take you point.  However, as you state, HoloLens is to be the engine OEMs build on.  Microsoft seems satisfied to sit on what it has for 2 years.  If so,Google will catch up, and may well have built a market the other OEMs can't resist.  This just seems vintage Microsoft, not knowing what to do, or really how best to market a leading edge technology.

        Mark from CO

      • jboman32768

        In reply to GeekWithKids:

        Agree - The OEM headsets this year will determine if there is a market left for Hololens 3 in 2019. Otherwise it will be yet another market Microsoft started and missed, like tablets and smartphones.

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