Google focusing on content as Android VR Daydream platform gets ready for prime time

Back at Google I/O earlier this year, the Alphabet subsidiary announced on-stage it would be doubling down on its virtual reality efforts with the upcoming launch of Daydream. The new VR platform, built on top of Android 7.0 Nougat, is almost ready for debut, and Google is investing heavily to make sure there’s premium content available at launch.

For years now, Google has been toying around with the idea of virtual reality, testing the waters with its affordable Cardboard headset. But the company has seemingly decided it wants to be a real player in this market, that’s expected to be worth tens of billions in the next five years, and compete with the likes of Facebook, HTC, Samsung, Microsoft and others.

But while many of those competitors offer stand-alone, expensive products, the Daydream platform, which integrates Android-based software, with a Google-designed reference headset, and an online content store, is designed to be accessible for everyone. By requiring an Android N mobile phone to act as both the screen and the brains of platform, Daydream-compatible devices should end up with much smaller price tags than some of their competitors.

According to a Bloomberg report, quoting people familiar with the matter, Google intends for Daydream to become the affordable and ubiquitous VR solution for the masses, just as Android became the main mobile operating system by being everywhere. And despite Google announcing its own headset and controller back at I/O, the company will mainly be banking on its partners when it comes to hardware.

It’s a different story on the software side though, with Google developing important improvements in Android 7.0 Nougat, specifically designed for VR. That new operating system just launched earlier this week, and is expected to start showing up on more devices as the months go by. But new devices that run the OS out of the box will be even more important, because these are the ones that will be taking advantage of Daydream.

Finally, Google is also focusing intensely on the content that will be available at launch. According to the same report, Google is partnering with the likes of Hulu, HBO and a number of high-profile YouTube stars and creators. The company is spending money on all these partners to ensure that VR takes off and that the content store part of Daydream, becomes just as lucrative as Google Play is on other platforms.

There’s no clear indication of when Daydream might launch officially, but it probably won’t be long now. Google is expected to debut the platform alongside a pair of new Nexus devices, capable of highlighting the new features and operating system.