Apple acquires virtual reality startup NextVR

The VR startup had previously worked with sporting leagues like the NBA and NFL to broadcast events.

Apple confirmed reports on Friday that it has acquired NextVR, a virtual reality company that specialises in broadcasting live events under the virtual reality (VR) format.

NextVR was known for previously inking deals with the National Basketball Association, National Football League, Live Nation, Fox Sports, International Champions Cup, as well as various artists to broadcast sporting events and concerts through its VR platform.

When asked to comment, Apple merely referred to a CNBC report on the acquisition, where it said: "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans." 

Meanwhile, NextVR's website was updated with a note, saying: "We're 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."

Prior to the acquisition, Apple had told ZDNet's sister publication CNET that it had plans to release an augmented reality (AR) and VR headset sometime later this year. 

Apple said, at the time, the headset would have an 8K display for each eye -- higher resolution than today's best TVs -- and would be untethered from a computer or smartphone.

As Apple continues to work on a AR/VR offering, Microsoft and Facebook have already released their own VR headsets, the HoloLens and Oculus, respectively.

Despite AR/VR investment from these tech companies, uptake of the technology has been slow, with global shipments of VR headsets only totalling 5.7 million last year. In comparison, over 1.3 billion smartphones were shipped during the same period. 

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