Apple has purchased virtual reality company NextVR, Apple confirmed to CNBC.
The purchase is further evidence of Apple’s plans to enter virtual reality and related augmented reality technologies as a new product category, although the company has not announced firm plans or a new hardware product, aside from AR software for iPhones.
An Apple spokesperson provided the the company’s boilerplate statement when it makes an acquisition: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” the spokesperson said.
The Newport Beach, California startup previously focused on broadcasting and producing live and recorded events in virtual reality, like sporting events and concerts. The company had a deal with the NBA to broadcast virtual reality highlights of the 2019 NBA Finals, for example.
NextVR had raised $116 million in funding and had 95 employees as of 2019, according to PitchBook data. Many of its investors were affiliated with the entertainment industry, including Golden State Warriors co-owner Peter Guber, Comcast Ventures and Time Warner Investments.
NextVR’s website has been replaced by a landing page: “NextVR is Heading in a New Direction.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.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook has briefly discussed his thoughts on augmented and virtual reality in recent years, and the company introduced support for virtual reality headsets with Mac computers in 2017.
“I think, when you look at AR today, you would see that there are consumer applications, there are enterprise applications,” Cook said in January after the company reported earnings. “This is 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.”
Apple did not specify a price or terms for the transaction, but 9to5Mac, an Apple-focused website that first broke the news of Apple buys virtual reality company NextVR, estimates the transaction to be worth $100 million.