Google dives into virtual reality with new division and new boss

Company positions top product exec, Clay Bavor, to fight Facebook’s virtual reality moves

Google Glass
Google Glass

Alphabet Inc.'s Google is focusing on virtual reality, creating a new division to work on the technology and moving the head of its product management team to run the new effort.

Clay Bavor, the vice president of product at Google since 2005, now has taken on the title of vice president of virtual reality, according to Bavor's Twitter profile.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bavor is no stranger to taking on big jobs at Google. As a top player in product management, he helped lead some of the company's most well-known apps, including Gmail, Google Docs and Google Drive.

According to a report in Re/Code, Google's product management lead will be taken over by Diane Greene. She sits on Google's board of directors and has been acting as a senior vice president of Google's cloud business.

Google and parent company Alphabet recently paid $380 million in stock to acquire Bebop Technologies, the cloud software company Greene founded. That move prompted speculation that Google bought Bebop to bring Greene on board.

For Google, these moves and the creation of a new division are aimed at making sure the company doesn't fall behind -- or further behind -- competitors, like Facebook, in the virtual reality arena. Facebook, for instance, has already begun taking pre-orders for its virtual reality console Oculus Rift, with the device expected to begin rolling out in the first quarter of this year.

Google hasn't been totally out of the virtual reality realm.

The company last fall announced that its video-focused site YouTube would begin supporting virtual reality video, enabling users to view VR video using a smartphone and Google's Cardboard viewer.

"Virtual reality is eventually going to be one of the big data interfaces and given Google is about data access, not having a focus on this could be a going-out-of-business strategy," said Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group. "The market hasn't emerged yet, so there is time and Google has a great deal of reach. This may be the first step -- develop an expertise, then buy [related companies] to catch up."

Brian Blau, an analyst with Gartner Inc., agreed that Google can still be a player in the virtual reality market.

"We could say Google is ahead, given their early start with Glass and their success with Cardboard," he added. "That said, I really feel it's still very early in terms of years for the development of a sustainable virtual reality and an immersive technology ecosystem. So it's feasible and realistic that Google can establish itself as an important technology supplier for this emerging market."

And while Enderle said Bavor is a good pick to get a new virtual reality division off the ground, Google may be looking around for someone to follow him with more expertise.

"He is a strong product management guy," said Enderle. "Eventually, they'll want a virtual reality person to run this, but he is a good selection to get the group off the ground."

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Supporting Association

Blog Posts

Why 2017 will herald a resurgence of values-based marketing

It doesn’t take long for predictions to become predictable: The rise and rise of Facebook; advancements in analytics; the normalisation of chatbots; personalisation, programmatic, automation, authenticity… The prediction that’s missing from these lists is that in 2017 we will witness a resurgence of values-based marketing.

Jacqueline Burns

Founder, Market Expertise

Why customer experience driven growth is set to take off

Our overall brand perceptions are invariably shaped by our experiences. And loyal customer relationships can be severed in moments by a negative service interaction.

Consistency and conversation: How branding and advertising can work better together

Advertising and branding are two of the most visible outputs of marketing, which is why getting them right is so important. However, too often the line between branding and advertising becomes blurred. This means advertising activity can be out of sync with brand, resulting in poor results for both functions.

Dan Ratner

managing director, uberbrand

Someone needs a swift kick up the bum for such an idiotic idea.

random

​Why a degree is no longer enough to get you hired as a skilled marketer

Read more

The frequent flyer programs are the new profit machines for airlines all over the world, as they have morphed to be mass marketing machin...

Steve@iFLYflat

Velocity frequent flyers program strong performer in mixed half-year for Virgin

Read more

Hi Jennifer, thanks for sharing these info regarding the digital marketing trends.I've created a related video to this topic, would you m...

Fabio Carry

Predictions: 17 digital marketing trends for 2017

Read more

Great news. Marketing automation can be very useful for companies at various stages of development. With so many tools out there it's bet...

Ben

How HBF rolled out marketing automation in eight months

Read more

I read a report that the business sector in Australia as a whole have yet to fully harness and see the proactive change that predictive a...

Alex Martin

Report: Predictive analytics, IoT, machine learning battle it out for marketing dollars

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in