Tim Cook
Apple, led by Tim Cook, is claimed to be working on a virtual reality headset Getty

It could be all too easy to get carried away with the hype around Apple's plans for a virtual reality headset. The rumours have been published, insider sources have had their say, and now the analysts are having a go too.

This article could say that a prominent technology analyst believes Apple will launch a VR headset to rival the Oculus Rift , and that it will work seamlessly with the iPhone 7. But hold on a minute, because the latest – and most headline grabbing – Apple VR predictions come from Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray.

Munster claims: "As a starting point, we expect in the next two years Apple will add VR to the MFi [Made for iPhone] program, which should make it easier for third parties to build virtual reality headsets powered by the iPhone, much like Samsung's Gear VR today."

VR to replace the iPhone

This doesn't sound too unrealistic, but then Munster starts presenting an episode of Tomorrow's World. "In the next five to 10 years, we expect Apple to release a mixed reality headset with the long term goal [15+ years] of replacing the iPhone."

It's a nice idea for sure, but Munster's track record has not been perfect. Back in 2011 he predicted that Apple would launch a television, right after Steve Jobs was quoted in a biography as saying he had "cracked" what was needed to make a better TV service, shortly before he died.

Munster, as 9to5Mac neatly summarises, repeated this claim later in 2011, then again in early 2012, late 2012, twice in 2013, and again in 2014. The Apple TV set-top box was being sold (and improved upon) throughout this time, but the mythical television never arrived. In 2015 Munster finally accepted defeat, saying: "It's hard to accept the reality of no Apple television."

This doesn't bode particularly well for Apple joining the VR party, but it is also a demonstration of how companies may invest hundreds of employees, millions of dollars and years of research into a product, then never launch it, which is likely what happened here. This could happen with Apple's 'Project Titan' car and it could happen with its VR plans too, no matter how advanced they are and how many analysts are certain both will happen.

Apple may well enter the VR race – there is plenty of evidence to say it wants to – but the lesson to learn here is that analysts do not know everything. They are better positioned than other outsiders, but they also enjoy causing a stir and creating headlines as much as everyone else.