Apple CEO Tim Cook’s Virtual Reality Plan: Be Vague

Calling virtual reality “really cool,” CEO Tim Cook sidesteps questions about Apple’s VR ambitions

Apple CEO Tim Cook relied on generalities to describe the gadget giant’s take on virtual reality, despite reports that the company has been amassing a force in the immersive format.

“I don’t think it’s a niche,” Cook said on a call with analysts to discuss its latest quarterly results. “It’s really cool and has interesting applications.”

Virtual reality, an entertainment and communication format that makes viewers feel like they’re in the middle of the action, may go mainstream this year, with a slew of companies bringing headsets to market.

The notable exception: Apple.

Apple’s chief device rivals Samsung and Google, as well as other tech giants like Facebook, have aggressively developed hardware to make VR more accessible, while Apple has remained silent.

However, other indicators suggest Apple has been quietly building a VR force. Earlier this week, the company confirmed it has hired a virtual-reality expert from Virginia Tech, following its hire of a audio engineer instrumental to Microsoft’s Hololens project, which shifts sound direction based on how you move your head.

Last month, Apple analyst Gene Munster at Piper Jaffray noted that Apple has hired more virtual- and augmented-reality personnel than Oculus-parent Facebook. The company has also acquired Metaio, a software company with VR patents, and PrimeSense, which designed the first motion sensors for Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect.