Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG), (NASDAQ: GOOGL) is one of the more prominent firms in VR, but its experiments have been somewhat different from most others in the business. Instead of putting the focus on expensive headsets and even-more-expensive desktop computers, Google’s VR projects have focused on the omnipresent smartphone to deliver new experiences to the masses.
Excitingly, the firm said it expects to have 11 new smartphones with VR tech Daydream in 2017. In an earnings call after the release of quarterly results Google CEO Sundar Pichai said he was expecting to have 11 new VR phones on the market before the end of the year.
Not all of those devices will be built by Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG), (NASDAQ: GOOGL), of course. In line with the its general mobile strategy it will release the flagship version of the VR tech. It then expects third parties to take that lead and release new, bigger selling, devices.
Alphabet Inc is betting on cheaper VR
On Tuesday morning Mr. Pichai said that Alphabet would have 11 phones on the market capable of running Daydream VR before the end of the year. So far the firm has the Pixel, Porsche Design Mate 9 and Mate 9 Pro from Huawei, Asus’ Zenfone AR, and the Motorola’s Moto Z on the market. The comment means that we’re likely to get a few more big releases before the end of the year.
Those may even include the Samsung Galaxy S8 and its variants. The South Korean concern promised to put Daydream VR in at launch, but users are still waiting for a software update.
This isn’t a major focus for Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG), (NASDAQ: GOOG), (NASDAQ: GOOGL) appears to be alone in the budget VR market right now, the firm’s rivals are beginning to take notice. Facebook Inc (NASDAQ: FB), which owns VR brand Oculus, has been the most active among them. As well as cutting the price of its PC-powered headset, it has announced a direct rival to Daydream.
On July 13 Facebook revealed that it would begin to sell an inexpensive, standalone version of the Oculus Rift headset next year. The device, which is as yet unnamed, will sell for as little as $200. The Menlo Park social media corporation is set to unveil the device some time before the end of the year.
Real VR competition for Alphabet?
Given its apparent low price, and the fact that it works without a PC or smartphone, the new Oculus could be just the tech for VR lovers. If Alphabet Inc is relying on making a splash in VR with Daydream, Facebook is going to push it hard. Given the price differential, it seems clear that Facebook Inc (NASDAQ: FB) is going to have an advantage to start.
It will, however, be a long time before anyone is likely to break the VR market. The technology is still fairly immature, and there are very few compatible games so far. That leaves a big opportunity to Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG), (NASDAQ: GOOGL), Facebook and the other players to offer a high quality experience at the right price.
We’ll have to wait until later in the year to see which of the firms is ahead in that race.