Trade Off Between High Quality VR Content and Easily Accessible Hardware
GoPro recently launched the GoPro VR which is a site where users can share and watch virtual reality videos. It also launched the apps on Android and IOS. All of this will help promote its latest six camera Omni rig. They have a lot of content which cuts across music, sports, entertainment, and art.
GoPro is not a new player in the 360-degree video industry as they have released the Odyssey rig last year which features a 16 camera rig. The Odyssey works in tandem with YouTube’s Jump VR to record, organize and distribute content but it comes at a very steep price of $15,000 which essentially puts it out of reach of the everyday mainstream consumer. It is still yet to be released. The Omni on the other hand costs $5,000 and this is way more affordable than its counterpart but it still remains an expensive product on the market.
These developments with the GoPro VR indicates that the camera company has decided to move ahead in virtual reality without the assistance of Google. Jump was launched almost a year ago but the Odyssey rig is still yet to be released.
Google in turn made YouTube compatible with a wide spectrum of cheaper and affordable VR cameras like the IC Real Tech Allie, the 360fly, the Kodak PixPro SP360 and the Ricoh Theta S. all of these products cost between $300 to $600 which is a lot more affordable compared to the GoPro. This move was excellent for Google because it made it easier for customers to upload lower quality VR videos but it was not so good for GoPro.
Google’s decision to broaden the horizon of virtual reality videos by making their platform accessible to users of cheaper VR hardware is in line with the thinking behind the introduction of the cheap Cardboard headset. This will allow mainstream consumers experience VR more. The video quality of these rigs can’t match that of the Odyssey or Omni and the Cardboard can’t compete with the big names like Oculus Rift but reaching more viewers is more of a priority for Google than producing high quality videos for a handful of early users with expensive gear. This has spurred GoPro to make plans to release a “more casual” camera during YouTube keynote presentation at CES in January.
The VR market is still very unpredictable and with the high prices of VR headsets and cameras, the growth of the market could be stunted until more affordable equipment is released. Companies like GoPro continue to work towards launching cheaper and more affordable versions of their otherwise expensive kits. Investing in virtual reality is a no brainer for most of these companies and with the demand for the expensive action cameras slowing downing drastically, companies need to rethink their market strategy. Regardless of all of this, the market is still estimated to grow to a $30 billion industry by 2020. This number will be a lot higher if VR is accessible to all and affordable.