Clay Bavor, VP for product management, has run Google's apps — like Gmail, Drive and Docs. He has also overseen Google Cardboard, its thrifty virtual reality device, since its launch in 2014. Now Bavor is dropping apps to focus squarely on virtual reality products. And the apps division is shifting to Greene, the revered software vet who joined Google in November to run its newly aligned enterprise operations.
Cardboard, which was designed to be a mainstream introduction to VR, has seen some success in getting out into the wild. It began distribution programs with schools this year and saw a nice bump from a buzzy deal with the New York Times. The Cardboard team also introduced an integration with GoPro that brings virtual reality video to YouTube, a feature that Bavor introduced at Google I/O in May.
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Yet many people in the industry have questioned Google's dedication to the platform, noting that the company has moved cautiously after its fumble with Google Glass. Facebook, conversely, has been open and assertive about its ambitions in VR, running Oculus as its own separate division.
It's likely that Google's long-term bet on the computing platform is its investment in stealthy augmented reality firm Magic Leap. (One person familiar with Google dubbed that investment "FOMO" — or "fear of missing Oculus.") But that product is several years, if not a decade, from a consumer reality.