What next for a company that turns over billions upon billions of dollars a quarter? You can go for a wonder down a street thousands of miles away, without leaving your bed. You’ll likely soon be driven in your own car. By the internet. For folk that grew up pre-www, the heights that Google have reached are staggering. So yeah, what next? Cardboard. And an elastic band.
The Santa Clara County tech-giant’s latest (and oddest) act is the democratisation of Virtual Reality, that overly geeky white elephant that won’t go away, via a DIY cardboard box (through which your smartphone will act as the display). Virtual Reality — whatever the billionaire bros of California tell me — will always remind me of The Lawnmower Man. And I don’t want to be reminded of The Lawnmower Man. Preconceptions aside, I gave one of them Oculus Rift things a go this summer. Tripe. All I expected. But they won’t stop, will they? Virtual Reality this, VR that. I digress, this here is a news story, not an opinion piece, so I’ll keep them to myself. So, to recap: Google are pushing cardboard as their latest innovation and, ensuring said cardboard gets the push they desire, The New York Times will be giving away over a million Google Cardboard viewers to subscribers with this weekend’s Sunday edition.
Snarkiness aside, perhaps VR’s long-standing problem has been the costly barrier to entry for the creative minds needed to really drive it forward — and, with a well-established reputation for creating superlative editorial, a collaboration with a name like the NYT is an interesting move.