Video streaming service provider iQiyi, a subsidiary of internet search giant Baidu, has unveiled an ambitious plan to establish the world’s largest Chinese-language virtual reality (VR) content platform.
At a conference in Beijing on Thursday, iQiyi’s senior management announced an aggressive 12-month effort that aims to see the company help hardware manufacturing partners sell 10 million VR headsets and mobile VR devices on the mainland, as well as produce at least 10 VR films and 100 VR games that will be free for all of its subscribers.
“In recent years, the investment in VR hardware development has made significant gains, but this cutting-edge technology still remains a futuristic concept to ordinary people in the absence of a VR content platform,” said Gong Yu, founder and CEO of iQIYI. “iQIYI’s expertise in online video and games will serve us as a springboard to build up an open and complete industry chain that covers VR production, distribution and interaction.”
The company said that its iVR+ set consists of two apps — iVR Panorama Cinema and iVR Game Room — designed for all-in-one VR devices, as well as a new VR feature in the iQIYI video streaming app. The iVR+ set is able to cover all the head-mounted VR devices currently available, it said.
Chinese companies have been keen to move into the VR sector which they see as broadening the range of entertainment content their clients will use, and also of extending the value of their intellectual property. They also see it as a new and developing sector in which they can keep up with innovations from North America.
“China has the potential to grow into the world’s biggest VR content supply and consumption market. And we believe that day will come soon with our joint efforts,” said Gong.
As part of the scheme, iQiyi will provide marketing, production and other operational assistance to more than 300 partners involved in VR content and device manufacturing.
It expects the VR initiatives jointly developed by iQiyi and its partners will reach more than 10 million users in China over the next 12 months.
“China has the full potential to grow into the world’s biggest VR content supply and consumption market,” iQIYI senior vice-president Duan Youqiao said.
He declined to reveal the size of the investments involved in the company’s latest expansion effort.
Founded in 2010, iQiyi is now the largest video streaming player in China in terms of the number of users. It recorded 350 million users on personal computers and 275 million users via its mobile app as of March this year, according to iResearch.
The VR Partner Incentive Program will work with VR video and game developers to make 10 existing online films and dramas and 100 games into VR productions.
The “Iron Fists” movie is to be co-produced with Wuxi Soulpower Culture, one of the companies behind recent hit film “Mojin: The Lost Legend.”
Other partnerships unveiled included those with Caijing Magazine, one of China’s most influential business publications; Conde Nest Traveler; 720YUN, China’s largest panoramic content provider; and Damai.cn, an online entertainment ticketing service provider.
iQIYI is a subsidiary of China’s leading online search company Baidu. As of March this year, according to iResearch, the company claimed, 350 million PC-based users, and 275 million people who use its mobile app.