Photograph by Tomohiro Ohsumi — Bloomberg via Getty Images
By Leena Rao
May 11, 2016

Like Facebook and Samsung, Google is taking a big bet on virtual reality. The company established a virtual reality division within the company, and it has seen early progress of its virtual reality viewer for Android phones, Cardboard.

On Thursday, the Mountain View, Calif.-based corporation started selling Cardboard viewers in Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany.

Google has used Cardboard, made literally from cardboard, as an inexpensive and easy way to popularize its virtual reality technology on Android phones.

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In October, the company partnered with the New York Times to send one million readers free Google Cardboard devices so they could watch New York Times-created virtual reality documentaries. In January, Google announced that it had shipped five million Cardboard viewers in the United States alone.

The company is clearly trying to replicate that success abroad. Cardboard will cost $20 CAD in Canada, £15 in the U.K., and €20 in France and Germany, according to Android Police. The search giant is also reportedly developing a new, standalone VR headset.

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There’s a reason why Google, Facebook, Samsung, and others are placing their bets on VR. The market is estimated to reach $150 billion by 2020, according to Digi-Capital.

Facebook is already shipping its Oculus Rift VR device, which costs $600 and requires a souped-up personal computer to operate. Apple may also be joining the mix after hiring a leading academic in virtual reality earlier this year.

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