Facebook's Oculus Rift VR headset is affecting more than just the pockets and purses of gamers - it's prodded Google to go all-in on virtual reality, too.

In a recent move following the well-covered release of the Oculus Rift that quickly sold out just minutes after its sale went live online, Google has shaken up its corporate ladder to make way for a new virtual reality boss.

For some time now, it seems Google has been lagging behind in the virtual reality space race. Facebook has the Oculus Rift, Microsoft's got its HaloLens, Sony's set with the PlayStation VR and even HTC has the Vive coming soon next month.

As for Google, we've yet to see any thing real come out of its partnership with augmented reality company Magic Leap, and all it really has so far is a DIY-like cardboard VR headset, Google Cardboard. Now, Clay Bavor is tasked to change all that at Google.

Formerly the vice president for product management handling some of Google's most-used business and productivity apps like Gmail, Drive and Docs, Bavor is now the anointed one to make VR a success at Google.

Reports say that Bavor is heading the new virtual reality group at Google, but no one seems to know what this new group is called. Will it go by a project name like most other Google forward-looking initiatives do?

Some of Google's more popular projects include Project Loon, an attempt to connect the world to the Internet via a global network of high altitude balloons; Project Tango, which aims to give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion; and Project Ara, a highly customizable platform for creating our own smartphones using modular hardware components.

What Bavor does have to build on is Google Cardboard, which he's done well with already. Insiders have said that Bavor had actually been spending a bit more time with Cardboard instead of his broader responsibilities with apps. This shift at Google seems to be a better fit for him and the company as it now attempts to play catch-up with Oculus.

In fact, the popular acronym "FOMO" or "fear of missing out" has been redefined at Google as "fear of missing Oculus." Google's greatest weapon against Oculus is whatever Magic Leap is working on behind closed doors, but until then, Bavor's Cardboard is the front line of defense.

So far, Google Cardboard has found some success. Launched in 2014, Cardboard is seeing greater adoption at some public schools where the technology is used for virtual reality field trips. The New York Times sent out over a million Cardboard units to subscribers to bring them into an immersive 360-degree documentary called "The Displaced."

Moreover, Bavor's Cardboard team also partnered up with GoPro to bring some of the first and best virtual reality videos to YouTube. Cardboard even went to go on further into the mainstream when "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"-themed units were sold and shipped directly from the Google Play Store for free.

At CES just last week, 360-degree video and virtual reality were the talk of the town. YouTube's Robert Kyncl also said that VR would change the mobile viewing experience and that it would grow exponentially.

Now it's up to Bavor to make sure that Google Cardboard is the first thing people think about when they decide to view the future of digital content. Compared to the Oculus Rift's $599 price tag, the $20 Google Cardboard is a steal.

Of course, the Rift does offer a truly immersive VR experience, but it's also an exclusive one at that. Google's Cardboard brings VR to the masses and that's where Google seems intent to stake its claim with Bavor at the helm.

In the meantime, the responsibility for apps will be tossed off to Diane Greene who now also runs Google's cloud computing businesses.

Photo: Maurizio Pesce | Flickr 

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