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Amazon Video to get its own virtual-reality team

A job posting reveals the company's intentions to build a VR platform with the hope of creating immersive entertainment experiences.

Amazon faces tough competition in the video-streaming field.

Photo by Amazon

If your tech company doesn't have a virtual-reality team in 2016 it's seriously behind the times -- at least that's what the social networks and phone makers of the world have led us to believe.

Amazon is the latest company to jump on the virtual-reality bandwagon, a fact we know thanks to a job posting spotted by UploadVR. The Seattle, Washington-based company is looking for a senior software-development manager, who will be responsible for leading the virtual-reality team within Amazon Video.

Virtual reality is one of the standout tech trends of the year so far, but most of the emphasis has been on spiffy new headsets like Oculus VR and HTC Vive. These will soon be making their way to consumers, who'll be immersing themselves in various digital worlds and forms of entertainment. And this is where Amazon plans to step in.

The company doesn't seem to be fussing too much about hardware at this moment in time. Instead it's focusing on creating an immersive platform for video content. Amazon's video-streaming service competes with a number of rivals, including Netflix and Hulu, in different markets. It already seeks to differentiate itself with original shows from Amazon Studios, set up in 2010, but it's also looking to the future, and in that future it sees VR.

"The future will not be limited to passive 2D experiences," reads the job description. "The Virtual Reality team will explore and create the platform and interface for immersive storytelling. This will include an ingestion and playback platform for Virtual Reality experiences."

The job description is transparent enough that there's no veil of mystery and intrigue shielding Amazon's intentions. A company spokeswoman declined to provide further details.

Netflix has already developed its own virtual-reality app for Samsung's Oculus-powered Gear VR headset, and Hulu is working on its own app. Just as apps made smartphones, the real test of VR will be the content made for those pricey headsets, and Amazon, even when it's made and sold its own hardware, has ultimately always been about delivering this content.

The company has had mixed fortunes in the past when it's experimented with making and selling its own devices. Its Kindle e-book readers have been a runaway success and have chased off most of the competition. Its Fire tablets and Fire phones have not fared so well, however.

The company is primarily known for its retail, streaming and delivery services. Its main aim with this "platform" will be to encourage people to get their VR experiences from Amazon in the same way they buy their e-books from the company now.

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