Apple Inc. AAPL has quietly been working on pushing into the virtual reality and augmented space for years. A rumored headset and potential Apple Glasses are among the items people think the company will launch in the next several years.
The company recently acquired another company in the industry, a company that had changed its game plan due to COVID-19.
What To Know: Apple acquired Spaces, a virtual reality startup that blends avatars into videoconferences. The company created a VR extension for platforms like Zoom Video Communications ZM and Microsoft's MSFT Skype. Users could create avatars and place them in the videoconference.
Spaces, a location-based VR company, had shifted to this new business segment. The company was a cast-off from Dreamworks Animation, founded by two former employees there. The company’s technology had been installed at theme parks and theaters and was behind a multiplayer game based on the "Terminator" franchise.
Why It’s Important: This marks the second acquisition by Apple this year in the VR industry and one of several in recent years. Earlier this year, Apple purchased a VR live-streaming startup called NextVR. That company had been a content partner with the NBA, NFL, WWE, Fox Sports, Live Nation and HBO.
Apple acquired AR headset maker Vrvana for $30 million three years ago. The company’s Totem headset utilizes technology from both AR and VR. This acquisition was the first of many that really started the rumors of Apple’s interest in the space.
The rumor of Apple working on VR/AR headset and glasses grew in January when CEO Tim cook showed his bullishness on the industry. On a company conference call, Cook said you “rarely have a new technology where business and consumer both see it as a key to them” referring to the possibility of consumer and business applications for the market.
Epic Games also may have outed Apple’s push in VR with its recent lawsuit against the company. Epic Games said it would lose access to developer accounts, which included ARkit features and “future VR features” into the Unreal Engine.
What's Next: Venture Beat points out that one of Apple’s core strengths has been to integrate hardware and software into its products. This is especially important with the vast number of small acquisitions Apple makes every year.
Every Apple presentation or event held offers an opportunity for the company to confirm or show off its AR/VR products. Until then, rumors will fly around acquisitions and how the company will use the newly acquired brands and employees.
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