Tell me if this is a familiar phrase: This year, Apple plans to release a mixed-reality headset. The hardware for the company’s MR (AR+VR) system has one of the most persistent rumor cycles. Some have been successful (Apple Watch). Some, like that annoying Apple TV device, not so much.
It doesn’t seem like Apple will automatically win the category. The remains of large enterprises and well-funded startups lie in the way of a successful XR play. It is undoubtedly not for a lack of trying that things are in such a disappointing state. It also belongs to a brand-new product category, which doesn’t happen often.
There is an interesting discussion to be made about how such a product might contribute to Tim Cook’s legacy, more than ten years after he assumed the position of CEO. Although Steve Jobs’ leadership of the company during the development of the Mac, iPhone, iPad, and other products solidified his status as one of the leading technologists of the 20th and 21st centuries, it seems entirely possible that claims of his leadership regarding the product that would become the Apple Watch are slightly exaggerated.
Cook likely deserves the most of the credit for bringing the product into the world, regardless of what knowledge he may have had in the project’s early stages. Same goes for AirPods, though one could also argue that those items were an extension of Apple’s (and possibly Beats’) earlier efforts in the field. 2017 also saw the introduction of smart home speakers, although it would be difficult to compare their success to that of the aforementioned goods
The Financial Times reported over the weekend that an unnamed former Apple engineer stated, “They face enormous pressure to ship. Over the past [several] years, they have been delaying the introduction every year.
Apple has reportedly spent seven years developing this product in all. The aforementioned remark at the very least causes one to stop. In the midst of a generally decreasing smartphone industry, it doesn’t sound like a corporation is particularly confident about moving on to the next piece of consumer electronics.
Currently, there is also a correction taking place in the smart home industry. With an estimated 200 million smartwatches sold, Apple has fully dominated the market. Nevertheless, nothing seems to be close to the billions of iPhones that have been sold.
In a recent article, the New York Times reported that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is preparing a new set of standards for the certification of agricultural products. So, it is reasonable to ponder whether the hardware will merely become less important for the company moving forward.
But, “some inside the firm feel [the headset] might one day rival the iPhone,” according to the FT article. Although many people have lost money betting against Apple in the past, there are still many reasons to be suspicious given the market’s disarray.
When I spoke with the key VR players at CES in January, two things struck out. The push into business comes first. Only one (PSVR) of the four headsets I used is primarily geared toward consumers. Magic Leap has entirely shifted its focus to business, and HTC and Meta are doing the same. Senses well. Although the consumer market is unproven, selling this merchandise to enterprises is quite lucrative.
“We truly felt that there was a value to be derived from AR much sooner from enterprise,” Magic Leap CTO Daniel Diez told me during the event. “That was the feedback they were giving us. Also, it helped us understand how the product needed to change in order to become really purpose-built for businesses, which is what you can see in the Magic Leap 2.
The other thing is that almost everyone I spoke with said they were excited for Apple to enter the market. A rising tide elevates all ship’s sort of situation. Theoretically, Apple’s entry would expand market share rather than erode what is currently there. Even though it has been around for years, it is still a relatively new category.
The main issue there has been technology for a very long time. Having played around with the present generation of products, though, I can state with sure that the large players are already doing some truly great things here. Find a headset to experiment with if you haven’t used the technology since Google Cardboard’s heyday. Software is the other bottleneck. Apple entering the market would be quite beneficial in that regard.
For Apple, many of the important hardware components are already in place. The company’s own technology is a significant potential driver in this case, particularly given the significant progress the GPU division has achieved. Given that this will probably be a significant ecosystem play (because of Apple), this could be the opportunity for the AirPods’ spatial audio to really shine.
Naturally, the business isn’t making any comments on any of this. The business holds out on releasing products to the public until they are completely baked, with the exception of a few significant hardware failures (MacBook keyboards, Studio Display webcam). Apple is renowned for taking its time, seldom being the first to market while still managing to introduce products that define entire categories. In the case of the aforementioned, the aforementioned was the case for the aforementioned, and the aforementioned was the case for the aforementioned.
“After much effort, we’ve concluded AirPower would not meet our high standards and we have canceled the project,” the business said in a statement to us at the time.
A wireless charger is not, however, an MR headset. It represents a significant portion of Apple’s future. That not only emphasizes how crucial it is to create a quality product from the start, but it also makes clear why stockholders are probably growing impatient after seven years of preparation.
Yet, mixed reality increasingly seems to need an Apple hit, whether or not Apple needs a mixed reality hit.