Apple continues to expand its VR/AR holdings with the acquisition of Spaces and NextVR.

Apple Puts Its Money Where It Envisions Future Tech

While it may be hard to keep up with the acquisitions and business shifts major tech companies are making these days, it is easy to see where Apple is heading. The company has snapped up several VR-related operations in the past year.

Recently, Apple acquired the virtual reality (VR) startup Spaces for an undisclosed sum, a company spokesperson confirmed to Protocol, which broke the news.

Initially part of DreamWorks Animation, Los Angeles-based Spaces became a separate business in 2016, creating location-based VR experiences like “Terminator Salvation: Fight for the Future.” After closing its VR centers due to the coronavirus pandemic, the company shifted focus to developing integrations for videoconferencing services like Zoom and Skype, allowing users to create virtual avatars to use in video presentations.

Spaces announced it was shutting down its VR business last week, with a post on its website stating the company was heading in “a new direction.”

Apple’s latest acquisition fits well into its portfolio of VR and augmented reality (AR), including NextVR, a VR live-streaming startup it bought in May.

In a story on, Apple’s latest purchase shows the company believes the explosion of Zoom-like business calls and meetings will remain a large part of the “new normal.”

Since studies indicate that virtual events and conferences conducted over platforms like Zoom are here to stay, concerns about large indoor gatherings will linger after the pandemic’s impact starts to fade.

“Apple, already heavily invested in AR and VR — the company has a highly anticipated AR headset in the works — could be looking to carve out a bigger piece of an emerging market, where event organizers and businesses will pay for more robust ways to connect people online. Virtual avatars represent the type of add-on that could unlock that type of engagement, even if their applications remain fairly rudimentary,” reported.

Apple seeks to diversify beyond its iPhone business with services. Buying NextVR and Spaces follows Apple’s acquisition last year of U.K.-based special effects studio iKinema and, in 2018, of Akonia Holographics, a startup with more than 200 patents related to holographic systems.

“Apple is among a number of Big Tech firms staying active in their dealmaking during the pandemic, which has resulted in an economic downturn that presents an existential threat for many small businesses and startups, but an opportunity for larger players to shore up their strengths. Apple earlier this summer acquired Mobeewave, a startup whose technology could turn iPhones into mobile payment terminals, Bloomberg reported. Contactless and mobile payments, which struggled for years to take off in the U.S., have found newfound traction as people look to avoid handling cash.”

While it remains one of the largest and highest-earning tech companies, Apple realizes it must pivot from its core technologies and find ways to take an even bigger bite of the digital pie.