Google is forming its own dedicated division for virtual reality computing, promising some intense competition for Facebook and Microsoft.
Not only has CEO Sundar Pichai moved over a key deputy to run it, but the move also signals Google’s intent to build a viable enterprise business. Because with the executive shift, Google’s massive consumer Web applications now fall under incoming SVP Diane Greene.
Greene is responsible for turning two of Google’s biggest untapped assets — its cloud sales division, which is well behind Amazon, and its enterprise applications sales, which have yet to take off despite several attempts — into a business that can rival search.
Clay Bavor, VP for product management, has run Google’s apps — like Gmail, Drive and Docs. He also oversees Google Cardboard, the company’s thrifty (as low as $9.99 kind of thrifty) virtual reality device.
The product was even distributed in some schools this year. Now Bavor is dropping apps to focus squarely on virtual reality products. He even has a new title: VP, Virtual Reality.
Many industry professionals have questioned Google’s dedication to virtual reality, citing Google Glass as one of the company’s fumbles.
In contrast, Facebook has been ambitious in virtual reality, running Oculus as its own separate division.
These productive shifts in employee responsibility are making doubters reconsider, though. Especially since Google invested in Magic Leap, the augmented reality firm. However, that product is several years or so from a consumer reality.
Google isn’t announcing anything about its VR team currently, not even how many people it employs. Be on the lookout, though. More Cardboard products could be coming our way soon.