Since 2009 a startup called NextVR has been developing proprietary cameras and striking deals to bring live events — think sporting events, wrestling matches and concerts — straight to the VR headset of your choice. It sounds like a potent cure for FOMO, and maybe it was for some people. The problem is, because of relatively slow VR adoption and a dearth of viable revenue streams, NextVR never saw the kind of “hockey stick” growth its backers had hoped for. Those obstacles eventually loomed so large that the company failed to raise a third major funding round, forcing it to layoff nearly 40 percent of the workforce at its Newport Beach headquarters. The writing was on the virtual wall — until Apple swooped in with a check.
9to5Mac reported last month that Apple had acquired the company in a deal valued at around $100 million, and Apple latest confirmed the acquisition — though not the price — to Bloomberg just recently. To mark the occasion, NextVR shuttered its website not too long ago. Now, it just thanks people for joining them for the ride and mentions that NextVR is “headed in a new direction.” Presumably, that “direction” is up Interstate 5 to Cupertino. Of course, this all leads us to a hefty question: What’s Apple going to do with a VR company? The short, obvious answer is no one knows for sure, but with all this news still visible in the rearview mirror, this seems like a good time to take stock of Apple’s interest in virtual reality and see what that tells us.