This week the smartphone manufacturer OnePlus, who makes the OnePlus One smartphone, made news as the company announced they would be giving away Google Cardboard. Cardboard is the popular, and inexpensive virtual reality headset, which has been at the center of Google’s virtual reality push over the last several years.
While giving Google Cardboard away might sound like a brilliant piece of marketing, it really leaves a lot of questions floating around out there. For a company like OnePlus, those questions are only amplified. First off, it is very odd that a company that claims to be the alternative to traditional smartphone options would utilize Google in this type of promotional event.
It is odd given the fact that Google in turn is a competitor of OnePlus, in the traditional sense of moving smartphones. However, that isn’t the only issue with the OnePlus Google Cardboard giveaway that measures as strange on the grand scale of things. It’s odd that OnePlus would do something like this given the fact that they aren’t just competing with Google to some degree, but that they’re also trying to distance themselves from the mainstream.
OnePlus prides itself on being an alternative, but it goes well beyond that, as this becomes something for Google to hang its hat on. However, the implications for OnePlus will surely be forgotten in a relatively short period of time. This though, will serve as a painful reminder of how poorly virtual reality is actually launching for Google and other companies as a whole.
Virtual reality was set to be the future of computing. However, it hasn’t worked out that way – and it doesn’t appear as though there is any chance of that happening in the near future. Instead, companies are left working with virtual reality – on the premise that it will mean something – down the road eventually. For investors, businesses, and tech companies alike – that is a terrible way to do business.
Especially when the long-term expectation for virtual reality is weak, at best. Right now, companies like Google, Facebook, Samsung, HTC, and many other smaller players are working on various types of virtual reality projects. Some of them are hardware while others are more software driven. Either way, the sheer demand for virtual reality-anything isn’t even slightly matched by what companies are putting into it.
That is the biggest hurdle that companies like Google, Facebook, and others have to contend with. They don’t just have to make virtual reality good; they have to make it relevant. If these companies can’t do that, and by all accounts right now, it would appear as though they’re falling short of this measure, nothing will change in the virtual reality space.