At the beginning of 2017, we purchased Unofficial Cardboard and kept on the founder of the company as a partner. Prior to this purchase, I was like the average person that was interested in virtual reality because I heard it was the “next big thing” along with Augmented Reality. What I quickly learned is that it wasn’t ready to become the “next big thing”, but it just might be ready now.
I learned a lot of things in the last year and have come to the conclusion that this just might be the year that VR (and AR) hit it big. 2016 was a very big year in the Cardboard industry because there were a lot of “early adopters” jumping into the VR world with both feet. In fact, it started at the end of 2015 with the New York Times partnering with Google to distribute over 1 million Cardboard viewers to see some great content produced by VRSE (now Within). What a great way to hit the ground running, right? Over 1 million viewers distributed by the New York Times, showing great content by VRSE/Within. This helped launch the VR Cardboard industry and sales went up across the board for the roughly 5-10 companies out there selling Google Cardboard.
Now, I start to dabble in the VR industry in mid-2016, when one of my long-time friends and soon to be business partner, who has 30 years experience in the print and packaging business starts as a salesman for Unofficial Cardboard. He asks me what I think about VR and I tell him that I’ve heard a lot about VR and would love to learn more. He shows me NYT Google Cardboard paired with content produced by the aforementioned VRSE (Within) including a U2 video that was awesome plus a horror short called Catatonic that literally made me jump out of my seat. It was my “aha moment” and I was hooked. I immediately saw the huge potential in the industry. During the second half of 2016, I started to familiarize myself with the industry and where it was going. My background is in marketing, promotions and events so I began thinking about how I could use it with my clients plus generate new business using this great new tool called VR. I learned plenty during the 2nd half of the year and presented VR to some of my clients and even though it made a huge breakthrough, the mainstream wasn’t ready to jump in just yet. Fast forward to the end of 2016 and we find out that the planets are aligning and we can buy into Unofficial Cardboard. I feel that I’ve done my research and the mainstream will be ready to take the next step.
I’ve had my own business for 14 years and have seen great technology ideas come and go in that time frame. I used many of them in my marketing efforts. Some stayed, but many went away. I felt VR is one of those that would take off and stay. The more I researched VR at the beginning of 2017, I realized that the industry wasn’t ready to move forward quite so fast. I learned that the average person didn’t know about how to access VR. They didn’t know the difference between 360 video, (which was now displayed by Facebook and YouTube) and Virtual Reality. I found that to be incredibly frustrating that a company as large as YouTube would announce they support 360 video and virtual reality, but not do a good job of educating people on how to experience VR (using Google Cardboard). Yes, Google, the same company that owns YouTube introduced the open platform Google Cardboard that turns 360 video (that is shown on YouTube) into VR, by just touching the screen of your phone. See how to view VR on the YouTube app by clicking here
So, the bulk of 2017 has been educating the public in anyway we can (along with the rest of the VR community). It’s known in the VR community that even though VR is accessible to everyone with a smart phone, that people still didn’t know how to view it. Well, I can say the VR industry is making a paradigm shift and people are finally aware. They are aware because companies like Warner Bros created a VR experience for IT (which happened to become the largest grossing horror film of all time). Universities throughout the United States are sending out Cardboard viewers to give virtual tours of their schools. Museums, real estate, professional sports, education and travel have all created VR experiences and many of them are easy to find on the YouTube app and other great apps such as Within and Jaunt. Just add the words 360 video after anything you want to see in VR on the YouTube app and you most likely will find it.
Now you might understand why I think 2018 might be the breakout year for VR. It seems that you can view it anywhere and all you need to see it is a pair of cardboard viewers. You can customize your own viewers and print just one on our website for just $9.95. Open up the world of VR for under $10.00. Everyone, and I mean everyone that tries VR for the first time all say and do the same thing. They usually say “WOW, this is cool” and their mouth drops open and they get “VR Face”. I think it’s time you experienced VR Face. It’s time to take the leap into VR with Unofficial Cardboard viewers.
Chief Marketing Officer at Unofficial Cardboard