China’s Netflix-like site iQIYI to build an open VR ecosystem

Video-streaming platform iQIYI has cast its sights on the VR industry and announced on Thursday at the “iVR+ World Conference 2016” in Beijing that it will build the world’s largest Chinese language VR ecosystem.

“The ecosystem we envision is an open one that covers production and distribution of IP and online social networking that involves interactions in videos and games,” said Gong Yu, founder and CEO of iQIYI. “And this is why we’re cooperating with IP providers as well as VR manufacturers at home and abroad, so that the VR experience can become accessible to everyone.”

Among the over 300 partners of iQIYI are HTC Vive and Samsung Gear VR, and the company is jointly building a nationwide VR network and channel.

In the next 12 months, iQIYI plans to make 10 VR videos with IP of its own, to provide 100 pieces of its own IP to VR game development studios, and to reach 10 million VR users with its VR videos and games.

Three major products will be introduced and improved, namely, the panoramic cinema app that targets desktop VR, the panoramic VR game center app, and the VR version of iQIYI’s app available on both the iOS and Android systems.

Duan Youqiao, iQIYI’s senior VP, further illustrated the panoramic VR cinema app that features a curved-screen user interface, a variety of different content, enabled user interaction, and intelligent capabilities such as the gradual change of light and sound to ensure that users feel comfortable.

Duan Youqiao, senior VP of iQIYI (photo from iQIYI)
Duan Youqiao, senior VP of iQIYI (photo from iQIYI)

iQIYI’s VR quest started in July 2015 when it published a non-commercial VR app for adaptation to VR manufacturers. From Duan’s PPT, iQIYI’s iVR+ products can now adapt to around 90% of all VR headsets on the market, including Xiaomi’s, whose product has yet to be released.

Founded in 2010 by China’s largest online search engine Baidu, iQIYI is now China’s No.1 online video platform in terms of daily and monthly active users as well as monthly viewing duration, according to iResearch.

“Instead of relying on profits from commercials and ads, which has been our major source of revenue, iQIYI has found a promising market of paid viewers in China,” Duan said. He told AllChinaTech that although iQIYI is also working on augmented reality (AR) and will introduce an AR product by the end of 2016, VR has been and will be their focus for the foreseeable future. “I believe that VR will be widely applied to the entertainment industry and even turn it upside down,” he added.

With more than 10 million paid viewers, iQIYI is a step ahead in developing IP content, and the VR ecosystem the company now aspires to build may indeed be facilitated by its openness and cooperation from all sides.

(Top photo screened from iQIYI’s official site)

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