In the coming weeks, Apple will reportedly release a mixed-reality headset. The headset is a high-end device that will cost around $3,000 and will be aimed at developers and early adopters.
The headset features two 8K displays, a high-resolution camera, and a powerful processor. It will also track users' eye movements and hand gestures.
Apple is working on several mixed-reality applications, including games, productivity tools, and educational software.
Launching Apple's mixed reality headset is a significant step in developing the metaverse. The metaverse is a virtual world accessed through headsets and other devices. It is seen as the next generation of the internet and could significantly impact how we work, play, and communicate.
Apple is not the only company working on mixed-reality headsets. Other companies like Meta (formerly Facebook), Microsoft, and Sony are also developing similar devices.
The launch of Apple's mixed reality headset will likely accelerate the metaverse's development. It could also lead to new and innovative applications we can't imagine today.
- The headset's tentative introduction to the market, with known hurdles, contrasts with Apple's usual path where products are introduced to the world as fully formed. The expected $3,000 price tag is out of the realm for many consumers, and the company is already anticipating some production issues. Apple is putting out the headset with a battery in a pack expected to be the size of something that fits in one hand and is separate from the goggles—a design concession unusual for Apple's typically sleek and minimal product philosophy.
- Executives and tech analysts say Apple isn't waiting longer because it would take too long to make its definitive version, competitors are already in the market, and the company has already devoted a lot of capital and resources to developing the headset.
- For Apple's first new primary product in a decade—the Apple Watch was announced in 2014—Chief Executive Tim Cook has a lot on the line as the device attempts to dominate the virtual world where people spend time for work or leisure, called the Metaverse, which hasn't yet reached mass adoption or understanding.
- There is growing skepticism among some investors and potential future partners that consumers will spend money and time on the metaverse. They note some early adopters are disillusioned with the technology.
- Facebook-owner Meta Platforms has struggled to keep users engaged and maintain sales for its latest virtual-reality headsets. Walt Disney Co. shut down the division, developing strategies for the metaverse. Microsoft recently shut down a social virtual-reality platform it acquired in 2017 and trimmed back the team building a headset it had been preparing as part of a U.S. military project.
- "Apple is standing on top of the many bodies that are trying to climb up that mountain," said Rony Abovitz, the founder and former CEO of Magic Leap, an augmented-reality startup whose private valuation has plummeted recent years. "And look, if you're a multi-trillion-dollar company, you have the luxury of waiting."
- In Apple's history, the company has defied skeptics with how swiftly consumers adopted most of its products. The market for digital music players before the iPod was small. Smartphones were still clunky with physical keyboards before the iPhone. Before the Apple Watch, wearables were a nascent category with limited appeal to people outside the tech industry. In each of those categories, Apple's entry vastly expanded the markets.
- Some industry players expect Apple's headset to lift the entire market for metaverse products. Some people who have tried out Apple's device said its capabilities far exceed those of competitors, with more excellent performance and immersion. Bloomberg and The Information have reported various details about the headset technology news outlets.
- "For a mass-market audience, virtual reality still lacks a killer app outside of gaming," said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager at IDC. The iPod had music. The iPhone had a digital camera, worked as a phone, and offered a web browser.
- Analysts, engineers, and tech executives have devised other ways to use the headset beyond gaming, such as virtual fitness classes or virtual meetings among colleagues worldwide. Some see it as enhancing education by making training more experiential. It could one day be used to help surgeons perform operations.
- Many in the industry think that the market for this technology still has a long way to go before it reaches its full potential: a regular-looking pair of glasses that could fully immerse someone in a digital world. According to industry officials, the necessary technologies to bring such a product to fruition—including computing hardware that is small and energy-efficient enough to fit into eyeglasses—are still likely around a decade away.
- Mass production of Apple's headset isn't expected until September due to manufacturing delays, people familiar with the issue said. Shipment forecasts for 2023 are estimated at 200,000 to 300,000 units, said Apple analyst Ming-chi Kuo—much smaller figures than the first-year production for the initial iPhone and Apple Watch generations.
- China-based assembler Luxshare has produced the device and is planning to make a high-end, next-generation version expected to be introduced in 2025, while Foxconn, Apple's biggest iPhone assembler, is expected to make a lower-end second-generation version, according to Mr. Kuo.
- The device is expected to come with a high price tag of around $3,000—triple Meta's most expensive Quest Pro headset. Even at that level, it will mean slim hardware margins for Apple as the company builds up production, people familiar with the issue said.
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