Apple’s much-anticipated virtual and augmented reality headset, which has been the subject of speculation for years, may finally debut at the all-online Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in June.
However, specific reports suggest that Apple could encounter a delay of 1-2 months in mass production due to hardware and software challenges.
Besides the anticipated production challenges, reports suggest that the headset will have limited availability compared to other Apple products. The initial shipment forecasts for the device in 2023 are estimated at 200,000 to 300,000 units, with the lower figure being more likely in the event of manufacturing issues.
Apple has never officially confirmed the development of a headset, but several reports have discussed its potential features over the years. According to recent rumors, the device might be called the “Reality Pro” and categorized as a “Mixed Reality” headset as it combines VR and AR experiences.
It cannot be a coincidence that the “realityOS” trademark owned by a company that seemingly doesn’t exist and is specifically for “wearable computer hardware” is being filed around the world on June 8, 2022 https://t.co/myoRbOvgJa + https://t.co/AH97r95EMn pic.twitter.com/uvsiZCj2rR
— Parker Ortolani (@ParkerOrtolani) May 29, 2022
Speculations surround additional headset features, including eye and hand tracking support, in-air typing and specialized technology for seamless integration with AirPods. Rumors suggest it will operate on an xrOS system, enabling features like FaceTime calls, reading Apple Books and gaming. It will also feature external cameras and sensors to enable color passthrough and augmented reality capabilities.
There have been discussions about an external battery pack designed to fit the user’s pocket. Multiple rumors also have indicated a potential price point of around $3,000.
The premium price mentioned in the broader market context is three times greater than that of the Meta Quest Pro, which recently experienced a notable price drop of $500. Given this backdrop, concerns arise about whether Apple is positioning itself for possible failure in this nascent product category.
🚨 holy shit! Apple trademarked (via a shell corp) an "xrOS" word mark in SF Pro in New Zealand just last week pic.twitter.com/Ow274yyuBU
— Parker Ortolani (@ParkerOrtolani) May 16, 2023
What experts say
In an email interview with Lifewire, Paul Tomlinson, a virtual reality expert at Mural, highlighted that mixed reality could face challenges when competing with the real world.
He explained that Apple’s primary obstacle is demonstrating the significance of the technology, not just due to the metaverse hype but also because the most formidable competitor to VR is actual reality, which happens to be free or at least much cheaper.
Tomlinson also mentioned that for Apple’s product to succeed, it must offer superior connectivity between people, ideas and content compared to other hardware and services while justifying the act of wearing it on one’s face.
Device expert Alvin Pullins said that people might perceive Apple’s entrance into the VR market relatively late. However, Pullins emphasized that the metaverse is still a relatively fresh idea and there is no unified agreement regarding its definition or the methods of its implementation.
Because Apple isn't very optimistic about the AR/MR headset announcement recreating the astounding "iPhone moment," the mass production schedule for assembly has been pushed back by another 1-2 months to mid-to-late 3Q23. The delay also adds uncertainty to whether the new device…
— 郭明錤 (Ming-Chi Kuo) (@mingchikuo) March 30, 2023
Neil Redding, the head of product at Auki Labs, also commented on Apple’s headset, saying that Apple has been investing in specialized AI/ML hardware, such as the Neural Engine, for several years. He highlighted that this investment has been integrated into Apple’s devices, positioning them well to embrace AI.
Echoing Redding’s comment, VRAR Chicago founder Matthew Wren suggested that Apple could incorporate AI software into its upcoming headset. Wren speculated that Apple might leverage the device’s chipset to integrate AI capabilities, broadening accessibility for non-developers beyond familiar tools like ChatGPT.
Market analyst Josh Gilbert from eToro also voiced his views on Apple’s headset. During a discussion with Cointelegraph, he said that the upcoming headset from Apple could impact the markets significantly. He attributed this expectation to Apple’s track record of delivering top-notch, game-changing products.