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Tim Cook: Virtual reality is not 'a niche' and 'has some interesting applications'

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The quarterly earnings conference call from Apple is on right now and CEO Tim Cook just fielded a question about virtual reality. His answer? "In terms of VR, I don't think it's a niche. It's really cool and has some interesting applications." It's not exactly — actually it's nowhere near — any kind of confirmation that Apple is pursuing anything in the VR space. However, given that the question was asked by perennial ask-about-the-Apple-TV analyst Gene Munster and that Cook's answer was somewhere in the same rhetorical zip code as Cook's old penchant for calling TV an "area of intense interest," it seems like "What will Apple will do with VR?" is going to be the new "will Apple make a TV?"

"It's really cool."

We've previously wondered when Apple would join virtually everybody else in tech and start thinking seriously about creating a VR product. The company has made some hires and acquisitions that could convince a hopeful person (a person like, say, Gene Munster) that Apple is getting ready to make a move here. But given how deliberative the company usually is and how tentative Cook's statement today was, I wouldn't bet on anything happening in the very near future. What I would bet on, however, is hearing more and more people ask Apple about VR on a regular basis.

Apple reported a quarterly profit of $18.4 billion, the largest in history, but it did so while reporting flat growth on iPhone sales and even forecasted declines in revenue for next quarter. That's certainly not to imply that Apple needs to find another category like VR to get back to the rocket ship growth it enjoyed for the past years, however. Last year the company laid the groundwork for all sorts of new markets — the Apple Watch, the Apple TV, and even the iPad Pro — and it will take some time before we know what kind of businesses each of those products will support.

Then again, Apple's rumored to be making a car and if it's a self-driving car, VR could be a fun thing to do in it while you're cruising down the highway. If you've run out of dreams for the iPhone, maybe it's time to dream about something new: lightsaber battles at 55mph.