Apple CEO says VR isn’t ‘niche’ after rumored investment

Apple CEO Tim Cook talks about his company’s recording-breaking profits and meager iPhone revenue increase, but the conference call became interesting when the topic of virtual reality came up.

Asked for his high-level thoughts on VR and whether it’s more of a geeky niche or something that could go mainstream, he signaled that it was close to the latter.

“I don’t think [VR] is niche,” said Cook without revealing too much about Apple’s possible role in the industry’s new favorite technology. “It’s really cool and has interesting applications.”

This is different than the often cautious tone of Cook and other Apple executives. He once called Apple TV a hobby box that wasn’t ready for mainstream consumers. That has of course changed.

Rumored VR investment

This is just the latest sign that Apple is interested in taking on new products outside of its heavy iPhone, iPad and Mac strategy. An Apple VR headset and Apple Car are obvious ideas on the table.

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Today’s warm reception toward virtual reality from Apple comes at the same time we’re hearing that the company is investing in new personal with ties to VR.

Apple is said to have hired professor Doug Bowman, a top researcher in VR from Virginia Tech, who is joining other VR focussed hires at the Cupertino firm.

There’s an obvious reason for Apple to get into VR. Samsung Gear VR is here and Facebook’s Oculus Rift launches with much excitement in March, followed by the HTC Vive and eventually Microsoft Hololense.

Even closer to home in nearby Mountain View, Google is always experimenting, with Google Glass, Google Cardboard and maybe another Google VR headset.

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