Apple’s Likely Path to the Virtual Reality Market

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We all know it’s likely coming in some form or another, an Apple entrance into the virtual reality space.  While Samsung continues to dominate the smartphone VR market, Apple remains on the sidelines, exploring the possibilities that the market may present them with.  Apple wasn’t the first to enter the smartwatch market, yet they have already built a dominant position within it with the Apple watch.  They likely are looking to do something similar within the VR space; enter it with a bang, offering something entirely new to the market, and quickly becoming the leader within a matter of months.

So, just what could Apple have up their sleeves?  Are they looking to compete with the Samsung Gear VR, with a headset that attaches to the iPhone, or are they looking to create a stand-alone product like the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift?

In my opinion they will take a play out of Samsung’s book, but on an entirely different level.  While a standalone device would equate to an entirely new market for the company, they likely realize how difficult it would be to attract gamers to an entirely new platform when there will already be three major platforms (Oculus Rift, HTC Vive & Playstation VR) thriving.  Instead Apple would likely leverage their dominant position within the smartphone market to up-sell customers on both a new iPhone and new attachable VR headset.  At the same time they could leverage their App Store to squeeze even more money out of gamers and developers.

Rumors have suggested that Apple is preparing a larger iPhone model (yes, larger than the iPhone 6s Plus), and they are also exploring new camera setups that would allow for multi-angle filming, which happens to be perfect for creating VR content to some extent.  Additionally, by 2018 it is expected that Apple will have readied their OLED display technology, perhaps just in time for their entrance into the VR space.  If you put the pieces of the puzzle together, it is entirely possible that Apple is already preparing for the launch of the iPhone 8 in 2018, with the intentions of making it a smartphone as well as virtual reality display.  The larger OLED screen would provide users with a much more immersive and life-like experience, and cater to those who are suckers for the larger screened devices.  With the iPhone they could offer a VR headset for $199 and sell them like hotcakes.  The headset could either be adjustable for multiple sized iPhones, with the larger screen OLED model being the preferred device, or they may make separate headsets for each size of the iPhone.  In addition it’s likely that Apple would launch some type of wireless VR control system, possibly via a bluetooth connection.

While these are all just rumors at this point in time, it seems as if this would be the likely path to virtual reality that Apple would take.  The company could up-sell customers on a larger, more intense iPhone, while selling a headset for margins which eclipse 50-60%.  Without a doubt the next two years will be big within the VR space, and if Apple enters like we expect, the market could grow much faster than originally thought.  Let’s hear your thoughts on these possibilities in the Apple VR forum on VRTalk.com.