Vrideo wants to be YouTube for virtual reality videos. The thing is, so does YouTube.
The Los Angeles-based startup with a modest $1.8 million in seed funding plans to dominate the market by focusing on mobile apps, Vrideo CEO Alex Rosenfeld said.
“Our goal is to be one of the major distribution platforms for VR,” Rosenfeld said of the company’s video-watching apps for the Samsung Gear VR and Android phones, which launched today. “Immersive video is all we do. It’s analogous to Twitch focusing only on gameplay content.”
That’s good news for VR content creators, because it means they will only be competing with each other for views on Vrideo — not PewDiePie, Rihanna and all the other YouTubers with established audiences of millions. In the near term, Vrideo hopes to offer a mix of free videos and purchases inside its apps. Over time, Rosenfeld expects to add paid subscriptions.
Currently, the company claims to have more than 300 video creators on its platform.
An iPhone version of the free app is coming soon. A demo of the version made for the Gear VR — a headset made by Samsung and Oculus that connects to certain high-end Samsung smartphones — showed that it was possible to subscribe to video makers’ channels, add videos to a “watch later” playlist and download content for offline viewing.
Virtual reality powered by a smartphone, rather than a high-powered PC or gaming console, is already here, even though for non-video applications that difference has historically limited what sort of applications are possible. For Vrideo, though, the ability to use smartphones for VR today means the mobile apps come first, before similar apps for Sony’s PlayStation VR, Facebook’s Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, which won’t launch to consumers until next year. The conventional wisdom is that offering immersive video on a device you already have will be a sort of gateway drug to pick up a headset.
In addition to hosting videos, Vrideo has tried to position itself as an approachable resource for people making or wanting to make VR content. The company is currently co-sponsoring a traveling virtual reality film festival that seeks to show how diverse that content can be.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.