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Google, Facebook racing for virtual reality launch

Sharon Gaudin | March 10, 2015
The first one in gets to set standards -- or at least try to -- and capture hearts and minds.

"It is the future of entertainment," said Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group. "Virtual reality puts you physically in the action. Whether we are talking movies, concerts, or games, it provides an opportunity for engagement that simply can't be matched with traditional media."

For the enterprise, virtual reality might mean some business travel is replaced by tele-meetings where people feel like they are sitting beside their co-workers or clients, instead of sitting in their actual offices. Sales people could use virtual reality to walk potential clients through simulated experiences, while realtors could walk buyers through virtual homes or office buildings.

"It could revolutionize remote education and telemedicine, for instance," said Enderle. "Virtual reality would be a powerful ad revenue generating engine, placing ads in places where you couldn't avoid them. And when it comes to social, you could allow people to remotely engage intimately in a virtual world of their choosing. The next Facebook could be a virtual reality firm."

Olds noted that he doesn't expect to see many other major players go after the virtual reality market right off, but it will be critical for Google and Facebook to make this work for them.

"What if virtual reality takes off and neither one of them are players?," he asked. "This would mean users are plugged into their computers for long periods of time, but not using Facebook or Google, which would be a very bad thing for both companies.

"If virtual reality is going to be big, then both Google and Facebook believe they need to be at the vanguard of it," added Olds.


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