Merchant Innovation

Why Google’s Buying Big Into VR

Is virtual reality anything more than a high-priced gimmick? Despite the opinions of detractors, Google is still putting its resources behind the emerging tech — and for what could possibly be its smartest economic decision yet.

TechCrunch explained how, given Google’s reliance on ad revenue to keep its financial furnaces burning, targeting technology that produces content for consumers’ eyes makes more sense than any other alternative. In fact, the full-court press that Google has been making toward virtual reality, which may have seemed like an attempt to corner a flavor-of-the-month gadget market, might actually make more sense as a multifaceted plan to drum up consumer interest in the technology.

As evidence, TechCrunch points out that Google’s troubled Glass product and its newly released low-cost Cardboard device seem to appeal to two entirely different types of customers — someone willing to shell out hundreds of dollars for a wearable AR device likely won’t be interested in a $20 do-it-yourself virtual reality kit. However, instead of trying to sell these gadgets with an eye toward profit, the more likely course of action for Google is to drum up widespread consumer interest in virtual reality experiences, regardless of if its devices can deliver them at the moment. When the next generation of tech is ready to go, Google could be hoping to have a ready-made foundation of interest waiting for it.

Without customers clamoring for those devices — as they currently are not — Google’s insistence on virtual reality may seem like nothing more than a shot in the dark at a promising technology. However, if all the pieces come together and Google hits the wave of manufactured consumer desire at the right moment with the right product releases, its advertising business might see massive gains, thanks to a new platform that taps directly into just what its consumers are looking at.

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The Which Apps Do They Want Study analyzes survey data collected from 1,045 American consumers to learn how they use merchant apps to enhance in-store shopping experiences, and their interest in downloading more in the future. Our research covered consumers’ usage of in-app features like loyalty and rewards offerings and in-store navigation, helping to assess how merchants can design apps to distinguish themselves from competitors.

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