Virtual reality gets a lot of attention these days, and with good reason. The immersive aspects of virtual reality (VR) allow for a completely different entertainment, gaming, and computing experience.
Many consumers are eager to try out VR for themselves. A recent survey by YouVisit showed that 41% of U.S. adults are interested in trying VR for themselves.
But despite the interest, some computers just aren't up to the intense graphics computing demands of VR -- and the co-founder of Facebook's (NASDAQ:FB) Oculus, Palmer Luckey, made that very clear recently.
In an interview with Shacknews, Luckey fielded a question about when the Oculus Rift headset will work with Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) computers. Luckey replied, "That is up to Apple. If they ever release a good computer, we will do it." Ouch.
He went on to say that Apple doesn't focus on high-end graphics processing units (GPUs) in its computers, and said that Apple's top of the line $6,000 Mac Pro "doesn't match our recommended specs."
And Luckey is right. The problem is that it's not just Apple that comes up short -- 99% of the computers on the market don't match Oculus' recommended specs.
This isn't a Mac problem
Graphics processor maker NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA) wrote just a couple months ago that less than 1% of PCs sold this year will have the capability to run high-end VR headsets (you can read more about that here).
A handful of PC makers have released VR-specific machines to reach the recommended graphics processing power of the Oculus Rift (and other headsets), but they aren't the norm. NVIDIA says that most computers will need to be seven times more powerful than they are now to match the recommended specs.
And despite Luckey's comments, Oculus and Facebook clearly know that Apple and other PC makers are not quite ready for virtual reality machines.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said about VR last year, "It's important also to recognize that this is going to grow slowly, like computers and mobile phones when they first arrived." And Luckey has said that it'll likely take five or 10 years for virtual reality to take off.
Luckey's apparent frustration with Apple should actually be directed to the PC industry as a whole then. More accurately, VR companies should realize that if 99% of computers can't handle their systems, then perhaps they need to be more patient for computers to catch up, or adapt their tech to make them work better with computers on the market.
So despite Apple's apparent lack of proper VR hardware, it's not even close to being behind the rest of the market on this. Virtual reality is going to have to wait a bit for the PC industry to catch up.
And don't think that Apple isn't taking VR seriously. Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that VR isn't "a niche" and that it "has some interesting applications." That's about as clear a message that you'll ever get from Apple that it thinks a new technology is worth pursing.
And with the virtual reality market expected to hit $70 billion just four years from now, up from $6.7 billion this year, you can bet Apple wants to get into virtual reality as soon as possible.