There’s no doubt that Apple has a definite interest in virtual reality. Tim Cook said on the most recent earnings call that “it’s really cool and has some interesting applications,” and he didn’t see it as a niche product. That’s as big a clue as Apple ever gives about its degree of interest in a product area.
We’ve also seen some interesting hires being made in the VR field, as well as reports of Apple testing various VR-related kit. But all of this is a long way short of predicting when, if ever, Apple will make its VR move.
One Apple analyst thinks he has the answer. “In the next two years Apple will add VR to the MFi Program” is the claim made in a note to clients by an Apple analyst seen by Fortune. There’s just one problem: the prediction is made by Piper Jaffrey analyst Gene Munster – the analyst who kept insisting Apple would be launching a full TV set “next year.”
As a starting point, we expect in the next two years Apple will add VR to the MFi Program (Made for iPhone), which should make it easier for third parties to build virtual reality headsets powered by the iPhone, much like Samsung’s Gear VR today. In the next 5-10 years, we expect Apple to release a mixed reality headset with the long term goal (15+ years) of replacing the iPhone.
We started tracking Munster’s TV predictions in early 2011, with repeats later that year, early 2012, late 2012, early 2013, a bit later in 2013 and – slightly more cautiously – late 2014. In 2015, he finally admitted he’d got it wrong. Having given up on that, it appears that virtual reality might be Munster’s next white whale. We’ll be tracking his VR predictions with
amusement interest …