Google has officially bid farewell to Cardboard, its cheap gateway into the world of mobile virtual reality. The goggles are no longer available on the company’s online store, reports Android Police. The writing was already on the wall for Cardboard back in 2019, when Google announced it was shifting to an open source model that would let developers create VR experiences that supported the $15 headset. By then, it had also abandoned its higher-tier Daydream View goggles, with Samsung following a similar route, that signalled to many that the tech giants were through with smartphone-based VR.
Today’s news is the latest reminder of the changes that VR has undergone in a few short years. Cardboard was launched in 2014, the same year that Facebook bought Oculus VR for $2 billion. Google’s goggles — along with other so-called stereoscopic viewers for smartphones — opened up virtual reality to a bigger audience and, in the ensuing years, an increasing amount of VR experiences were launched by the mainstream media, Hollywood and dedicated developers.
More consumer headsets followed, including the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR in 2016. And, in 2019, Facebook delivered its first standalone Oculus Quest VR headset — and even Nintendo got in on the act. With so many consumer VR options now available (not to mention the rise of augmented reality) it seems there’s just no need for Cardboard anymore.
Of course, the cheap headset had its fans: 5 million people picked one up in just over a year after its launch. Those users also installed 25 million Cardboard compatible apps during the same period. Therefore, the goggles clearly played their part in the democratization of virtual reality.