I have a VR post that I’ve let sit in Drafts. This isn’t it. This is just a quick comment about yesterday’s announcement of Daydream View, Google’s entry into the contest for VR headset dominance.
I now see what Google is getting at here.
Instead of producing a viewer that requires intelligence, their aim is to produce the cheapest possible viewer — but upgrading all Android phones to be VR-capable.
Think about that. Because it’s brilliant.
The biggest expense people will make is for the VR phone. Since all Android phones will eventually be VR-capable (those 2K screens will plummet in price), and people have to buy a new phone anyway, why make the viewer something that costs more, adds purchasing friction, and would require upgrades due to the headset hardware becoming obsolete?
Just make the damn headset as stupid as possible — within reason, still requiring capacitive “bumpers” for screen alignment and a passive NFC sticker for Daydream VR UI launch — and anyone can build the damn thing.
A starting price of US$79?
China will churn out these suckers and you’ll be buying them in 99-cent stores by this time next year.
And if you can get a viewer that cheap, everyone will think, Hey, let’s make sure the new phone we’re buying is VR-capable!
Laugh if you want. But remember this was laughed at too:
And where are we today?
All of this is just a start. Getting VR into the hands of people.
Once the — here’s that dreaded word I despise — content is there they absolutely must see, they’ll begin to clamor for standalone headsets. Mobile VR headsets. Because they don’t want the inconvenience of using their phone for VR.
And by that time, component and screen costs will have dropped to the point where a mobile VR headset will cost much less than their VR-capable phone. It’ll be trivial purchase for VR instead of the budget-busting investment required for an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.
Always attack a market from the bottom-up, not the top-down.
This is what Google is doing.
And let me remind everyone that’s what Apple did with the iPad.
A tablet computer at the time was a Rift/Vive-like investment. It ran Windows and was thick and heavy.
The iPad astounded everyone with its starting price of US$499. Apple Launches iPad: Magical & Revolutionary Device at an Unbelievable Price
iPad will be available in late March starting at the breakthrough price of just $499.
It stole the market from Microsoft. Hell, it finally created a tablet market.
And what company is sustaining the Android tablet market today? Not Samsung. Not even Google. It’s Amazon, with its cheap-ass slabs from China. Amazon attacked the established market from the bottom.
Google’s strategy for popularizing VR will work.