Google: 5 mil Cardboards shipped, 25 mil VR apps played

Five million Google Cardboard-compatible headsets have been shipping, Google announced yesterday.

The accompanying graphic shows a lot of headsets made out of cardboard, and two — the Mattel Viewmaster and the Goggle Tech C1-Glass — made out of plastic.

(Image courtesy Google.)

(Image courtesy Google.)

Google didn’t provide any details about how they track these numbers, and whether Chinese headsets — which don’t normally come with official Google Cardboard QR codes — are included in the totals.

It is, however, the first solid number showing the explosive growth in light-weight, inexpensive, mobile-based virtual reality.

(Image courtesy Google.)

(Image courtesy Google.)

Google also reported that more than 25 million virtual reality applications have been downloaded, more than 350,000 hour of virtual reality videos have been watched on YouTube, more than 750,000 virtual reality photos have been taken with the Cardboard Camera app — which was only released in December — and more than half a million students have gone on virtual expeditions as part of the Google Expeditions program.

The company also says that there are more than 1,000 virtual reality apps in the Google Play store.

The announcement was posted by Clay Bavor, Google’s new VP of virtual reality.

Meanwhile, Google has been working to make the Cardboard experience a little better. Earlier this month, it upgraded its Cardboard software developers kit with spacial audio. This means that users who wear audio headsets while using their Cardboards will hear sounds as coming from the directions they’re supposed to come from in the virtual experience, creating a more immersive effect.

Google is also rumored to be working on its own, higher-end headset as well.

Samsung’s Gear VR has demonstrated that the user experience can be improved if the virtual reality headset had some additional capabilities of its own, on top of what was in the smartphone it is paired with.

However, Google can also be working on its own, higher-quality headset in order to improve the specifications for Android smartphones to offer more support for virtual reality in general. After all, smartphones were not originally designed to be virtual reality devices.

With Apple now rumored to be — finally — looking at virtual reality, and the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR finally hitting the consumer market this year, Google Cardboard will need to step up its game to keep ahead of the competition.

maria@hypergridbusiness.com'

Maria Korolov

Maria Korolov is editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business. She has been a journalist for more than twenty years and has worked for the Chicago Tribune, Reuters, and Computerworld and has reported from over a dozen countries, including Russia and China.

  • Big Baby Sweets

    wow! virtual reality is a right plum for picking it seems like!? can’t wait to get me some of that vr p〇rnograhy!

    • I’m actually working on an article about that — there’s a bunch of companies working on it, both from male and female point of views. The experiences, so far, are mostly non-interactive, just virtual reality videos where you can look around. But this makes them a good fit for mobile-based VR like Gear VR and Google Cardboard, because you download the video all at once, then watch it without having to deal with lag.

      Lag is a killer in VR. And mobile interactivity in particular slows things down.

      The companies behind it are hoping that it will make people pay for porn again, so they’re investing heavily in the equipment they need. And, from what I’ve seen so far, the experience is dramatically … umm… different. I can see why folks would pay for it. Plus, porn always drives tech adoption, right? So it’s a good thing for VR businesses in general to keep an eye out — whatever platform the porn industry winds up adopting might well have a good head start on the competition.