Recently, one of HTC's former employees, Claude Zellweger, sent out a tweet (reported by 9to5Google) mentioning that he's left the company and is heading over to the Daydream virtual reality (VR) division run by Alphabet's (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google.
Zellweger led the team that designed HTC's high-end Vive VR headset and his move to Google's Daydream team is a strong indication that the company is getting even more serious about its mobile VR goals.
Why this matters
Google released its new Daydream View VR headset just a few months ago. The device is upgraded from the company's former Cardboard VR headsets that were (wait for it) made out of cardboard.
The View is an upgrade from the basic mobile VR unit and has a stylish design, soft-touch fabric, and a head strap to keep it on your head (most of the Cardboard versions had to be held up by hand). It also comes with a wireless remote that allows users to interact with VR content, like casting a fishing line, swinging a bat, or navigating around VR worlds.
In all, the View and its remote were a big step forward for Google as it launched its Daydream VR platform where users can access video content and VR games. But as much of a leap forward as the View was for Google's mobile VR plans, the Zellweger hire indicates that Google is already moving on to bigger plans.
Google already dominated sales of mobile VR headsets in 2016, according to SuperData research, and sold 20 times more of its headsets than all of its competitors combined. With this lead, and more focus on headsets seemingly coming, Google appears perfectly positioned to benefit from mobile VR for years to come. Using Zellweger to help expand into more VR headset designs -- or possibly bringing higher-end units to market -- could help Google set itself apart even more.
Mobile VR is one of the fastest-growing segments of virtual reality and is where most of the early VR user adoption will happen. Conservative estimates peg the VR market at around $30 billion by 2020, and higher estimates put it at $70 billion by the same time.
If we take the conservative estimate, about one-fifth of those revenues will come from hardware, while the rest will come from software. Google is clearly looking to lead in both the software and hardware segments with the Daydream platform and Daydream View, and adding more products, or slightly more expensive ones, could help lure more consumers into the market. Google's Daydream View costs just $49 right now, but a headset with more features could go for more.
It's still unclear how exactly Google plans to use Zellweger, but the hire is a clear indication that the company is already focusing on its next iterations of the Daydream View headset. That should help Google build on its already massive lead in the mobile VR headset space, and could eventually help bring more users to its Daydream platform.