Forget TV sets, Apple’s next big thing could be virtual reality

Next big thing?
Next big thing?
Image: Reuters/Stephen Lam
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Gene Munster has finally thrown in the towel on a prediction he’s been making since at least 2010: that Apple would start making television sets.

“[I]t’s hard to accept the reality of no Apple television,” the Piper Jaffray technology analyst wrote in a note to clients this morning, responding to a Wall Street Journal story (paywall) that says Apple shelved its TV set plans for good last year. “Based on this report, we no longer expect a television to launch indefinitely.”

Apparently not one to dwell on defeat, Munster then served up an even more tantalizing possibility for tech-minded investors to think about.

Envisioning the the next 10 years, it seems less likely that the television will be the centerpiece of the living room with the evolution of virtual reality and augmented reality. We believe that Apple is actively working on early virtual and augmented reality products, although we may be 5+ years away from seeing these products launched.

Other tech giants have been active in this area—most notably Facebook, which acquired virtual-reality headset maker Oculus Rift for $2 billion last year—so it would make sense for Apple to be interested, too. The Apple watchers at the blog 9to5mac have reported in recent months that Apple has been hiring people with experience in virtual reality.

Munster says Apple could still be five years away from launching a product in this arena. Whether his prediction here will be anymore accurate is anyone’s guess. But he shouldn’t feel too badly about not getting it right on the Apple television set. It seems billionaire investor Carl Icahn, a sizable Apple shareholder, didn’t get the memo either.