Apple has acquired virtual reality event start-up NextVR

15 May 2020

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NextVR has developed technology to broadcast live and recorded events in virtual reality, forging deals with CNN, the NBA and Nascar in recent years.

Apple has acquired NextVR in a deal that is estimated to be worth around $100m. The acquisition was first reported by 9to5Mac in early April, but Apple confirmed the news to Bloomberg yesterday (14 May).

Based in Newport Beach, California, NextVR has developed technology to broadcast and produce live and recorded events in virtual reality (VR), such as sporting events and concerts.

The company had deals with a range of companies, including the NBA, which allowed it to broadcast virtual reality highlights of the 2019 NBA finals. NextVR also partnered with CNN and Nascar.

Since the news broke, it has updated its website to say: “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.”

Virtual and augmented reality

According to PitchBook, NextVR had raised around $116m in funding and had nearly 100 employees. Investors in the business included Time Warner Investments, Comcast Ventures and the Madison Square Garden Company.

The Verge suggested that this acquisition could be related to Apple’s plans for the future of augmented reality (AR), saying the company may introduce a VR component to its planned AR headset and glasses.

At an event in Dublin earlier this year, Apple boss Tim Cook spoke about how AR will pervade our entire lives – and that was before access to traditional entertainment events became interrupted by restrictions introduced to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

On a separate occasion, after Apple’s first earnings report of the year, Cook said: “I think when you look at AR today, you would see that there are consumer applications, there are enterprise applications.”

He added that he is “excited” about AR and VR because it is rare to see “a new technology where business and consumer both see it as key to them”.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic