Although Apple, Inc.’s AAPL long-awaited mixed reality headset has cost the company eight years and has yet to see the light of the day, a new report hints at an imminent launch.
What Happened: Apple’s highest-ranking executives, otherwise known as the “Top 100,” gathered at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California, last week to see the MR headset, the most anticipated product in years, Bloomberg columnist Mark Gurman noted in his weekly “Power On” newsletter.
The MR headset was demoed for the group ahead of its planned public unveiling in June, Gurman said. “It was an opportunity for the mixed-reality team to rally leaders around what could be the next major platform beyond the iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch,” he added.
Gurman also said that Apple’s “Technology Development Group,” which is spearheading MR initiative, has been showcasing the product to the “Top 100” every year since 2018.
So, what’s different this time?
Earlier demos, according to Gurman, were lower-key affairs aimed at showing progress and obtaining the headcount needed to keep the project going. The fact that the latest preview was held at the Steve Jobs Theater suggests that the product is getting close to a public unveiling, he said.
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Challenges Galore: MR, which blends augmented reality and virtual reality, is still a nascent area and a far riskier undertaking than Apple’s previous product launches, the columnist said. With the Mac, iPod, iPhone Apple Watch and iPad, Gurman said that Apple has simply created better versions of products customers have long been familiar with.
The challenges Gurman foresees with MR include:
- The fact that consumers may have to be educated the product and its value, among other things
- The product’s prohibitive cose
- The Lack of a clear killer app
- The requirement of an external battery that needs to be replaced every couple of hours
- A design that has been perceived as uncomfortable by some testers
- Likely limited media content
Expectations: The first version of the MR headset may look like a “dud” next to the company’s existing lineup, Gurman warned in his newsletter. “It’s still likely to make Apple the market leader in mixed reality within a few months, but that’s just sign of how weak the current market is,” he said.
Apple executives expect consumer interest in MR to grow when subsequent headset models are launched, the columnist said. Within two years of the initial headset launch, the company plans to release a version that will cost half as much as while performing far better, he said.
Apple estimates that it can sell about a million units of the headset at $3,000 per unit in its first year, which would translate to revenue of about $3 billion, Gurman said while noting that he expects there to be no immediate profit.