Apple confirmed the deal to buy NextVR for undisclosed terms, but declined to provide additional info. “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” a company rep said in a statement.
NextVR’s content partners have included NBA, NFL, WWE, Fox Sports, Live Nation Entertainment, HBO and the International Champions Cup. The Newport Beach, Calif.-based company had 95 employees as of 2019. NextVR has worked with content partners to produce live and recorded VR content, and hosted content through its own consumer-facing apps.
On Thursday, the NextVR website was updated with a message that reads, “NextVR is Heading in a New Direction.”
“Thank you to our partners and fans around the world for the role you played in building this awesome platform for sports, music and entertainment experiences in Virtual Reality,” the message says. The company did not respond to requests for comment.
Apple has long been working on an AR headset, and CEO Tim Cook has been vocal about the potential of the technology. The company also is believed to be developing wearable augmented-reality glasses, but to date its actual products in the AR/VR arena have been limited to tools enabling developers to build augmented-reality apps.
“When you look at AR today, you would see that there are consumer applications, there are enterprise applications,” Cook told analysts on Apple’s earnings call this January. “The reason I’m so excited about it is you rarely have a new technology where business and consumer are both see it as key to them… It’s going to go across both business and your whole life.”
In a research note Thursday, TFI Securities’ Ming-Chi Kuo — a noted Apple analyst — said he anticipates the company launching AR-enabled Apple Glasses “in 2022 at the earliest.” Apple’s AR glasses are expected to work in tandem with iPhones, the way the Apple Watch does.
There’s no confirmation of price, but Apple was said to be in talks to buy NextVR in a deal valued at $100 million, per a report last month by industry blog 9to5Mac.
Founded in 2009, NextVR had raised about $115 million. Investors included WarnerMedia (through Time Warner Investments), Comcast Ventures, Stephen Ross’s RSE Ventures, Mandalay Entertainment CEO Peter Guber, the Madison Square Garden Co. and Dick Clark Prods.