Dear xatakeros, next June 5 we have an appointment. That day is the inaugural talk of WWDC 2023, the conference for developers in which we expect new versions of macOS, iOS or iPadOS, but in which above all we expect an important hardware announcement: that of virtual reality glasses (or mixed) from Apple. The expectations, yes, are getting worse.
Delays and more delays. The Financial Times indicates that Apple has been working on its mixed reality glasses and on the project for future augmented reality glasses since 2016, but the truth is that this development has been plagued with problems and, above all, delays. It is not something usual in such a consolidated company and with Apple’s experience, but it is just one of the problems with that launch.
The employees, pessimistic. A few days ago The New York Times published an article with statements by several anonymous Apple employees. Based on those comments, the mixed reality headset is not ready. Some of them abandoned the project due to these doubts, while others are skeptical and do not fully trust the potential success of a device that is also expected to be very expensive and around $3,000.
The iPod and the iPhone were different. These statements reveal how these employees do not see in the glasses what was seen with the development of the iPod or the iPhone. “Glasses have not been led by that same clarity.” The departure of key managers from the industrial design department—first Jony Ive and then his successor, Evans Hankey—hasn’t helped.
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…
— Ming-Chi Kuo (@mingchikuo) March 30, 2023
Rumors of production cuts. Previous data spoke of an initial production of about 500,000 units, a very modest figure for a giant for Apple but reasonable considering the high price of the glasses. However, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo published a tweet today indicating that production has been reduced to between 200,000 and 300 units.
In his words, Apple is not too optimistic with the reception of the device, especially due to “the economic situation, sacrifices in some hardware specifications for mass production (such as weight), the state of the ecosystem and its applications or the high sale price ($3,000 – $4,000 or even higher)”.
Will they really launch the glasses? The truth is that Apple has not spoken publicly about this project and it is not confirmed that it will launch them. In Bloomberg they indicated how Apple had taught the product to the 100 most important executives of the company (the ‘Top 100’ group) last week, a clear milestone that points to the June launch of the product. Still, nothing is entirely certain In this section, and if the glasses really exist, Apple could also end up canceling the launch.
what do we expect. The data that has been leaking indicates that the glasses have a format similar to that of ski goggles. In them there will be a physical crown like the one on the Apple Watch to activate or deactivate virtual reality. To avoid excessive weight on the glasses, they could use an external battery that the user would carry in his pocket in a similar way to the Magic Leap.
A market that has been stagnant for years. There are also doubts about the applications or games that will precisely give value to the Apple glasses. The virtual reality segment has an interesting catalogue, but one that has continued to fail to make existing devices into massive hits. IDC data reveals 8.8 million virtual reality headsets sold in all of 2022, which was 20.9% less than in 2021.
An iPod-style revolution? It remains to be seen if Apple manages to revolutionize this segment. The iPod is the clearest reference: before its appearance there were MP3 players, but they were products with limitations. The Apple device, which launched in 2001, was a huge disruption, but what really cemented that launch was the introduction of the iTunes Store in 2003 and the start of the era of music downloads. It seems difficult to replicate that success —which would later be surpassed by that of the iPhone and the App Store— but the company’s past means that at least it deserves the benefit of the doubt. We’ll see if he throws the glasses… and we’ll see what happens from then on.
Image: Javier Pastor with Bing Image Creator
In Xataka | Tim Cook’s legacy at Apple goes through an unusual suspect: mixed reality glasses
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