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.