Apple's Virtual Reality: Not If, But When

In many areas in the smartphone and tablet industry Apple has blazed the trail, creating devices that are unparalleled in their user interface, practicality, and usefulness. Apple has managed to either out-innovate its competition or simply out-perform them. In some instances, Apple set the trend, as was the case with the first-to-market device of its kind, the original iPhone. In other instances, like the Apple Watch, Apple may not have been the first to offer a product of this kind, but the sales, popularity and customer satisfaction levels of the Apple Watch have gone on to far exceeded that of its closest competitors. Now, as the world gradually acknowledges the potential of Virtual Reality (VR), the question arises: will Apple be content to sit on the sidelines while other companies, like Google, Samsung, and Oculus become the dominant forces in this emerging new medium, or does Apple have a thing or two up its sleeves when it comes to Virtual Reality?

By now you may have heard the rumors of  a dedicated team of Apple engineers devoting its time to Apple's top-secret VR project. In fact, Tim Cook was recently quoted as saying, “In terms of VR, I don't think it's a niche. It's really cool and has some interesting applications.” This, combined with recent patent applications, new hire,s and purchases of VR-related companies, certainly points towards the possibility that Apple is preparing to get its feet wet in the virtual world.

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The other thing you may have heard is that a number of other companies have already beat Apple to market with revolutionary VR accessories. The internet is already burgeoning with the likes of Samsung's Gear VR, Gear 360 VR camera, Google's extremely affordable, entry-level Cardboard headset, and the similarly affordable, higher-quality View-Master VR Viewer, to name but a few.

The competition is obviously heating up, and as the saying goes: competition inspires innovation, and Apple is a master of innovative technology. Having had the opportunity myself to experience some of the jaw-dropping wonder that is modern day VR, I for one can say that I'm very excited to see what Apple will unveil, hopefully in the not-to-distant future.

For me, the question of Apple entering the VR market is not so much "if" as "when". Perhaps Apple is content to be the late-comer instead of the trailblazer when it comes to their Virtual Reality gear. It wouldn't be the first time another company beat Apple to the punch with products in a new and emerging technology platform. I'll have to trust that whenever Apple decides to reveal their hand and let the world see what their team of VR engineers has developed, it'll be something impressive and finely polished.

What I can't help but wonder though, is how long Apple's fortune will hold out and continue to allow it to show up late for a party and still dominate. As time goes by and the competition all but levels the playing field when it comes to smartphones and tablets, it seems to me all the more pertinent that Apple not just innovate and impress, but innovate and impress first, and in a dramatic fashion.

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As Senior Gear Editor at iPhone Life, Dig reports on the latest and greatest accessories built for the iOS ecosystem. From rugged gear and Bluetooth speakers, to headphones, unique iDevice cases, and iOS remote controlled vehicles, Dig's articles cover a wide range of great gear for the iPhone and iPad. A core gamer for over three decades, Dig also writes iPhone Life's Game Centered column, which focuses on the best iOS games and game related news. Additionally, Dig's company, iDoc Tech Support, offers web design and administration services as well as iPhone and iPad repairs. When not at his work desk, Dig loves spending time with family and enjoying the wonders of nature. You can follow him on Twitter @idoctech