In a report today from the New York Times, anonymous employees at Apple express their skepticism about the upcoming AR/VR headset, expected to be officially announced to the world at WWDC in June.
The NYT says that unlike some other recent product launches, Apple has failed to rally all of its employees behind the project. Some employees have left the teams because they are not convinced the product will appeal to customers.
The New York Times says Apple will pitch the headset first and foremost as a “copresence” device, enabling augmented reality videoconferencing and meetings. Apple also believes the product will have uses as a creative tool, such as being able to edit images and video in 3D space. Thirdly, it will serve as a personal TV cinema with Apple partnering with Hollywood creators including Jon Favreau to create content for the device.
The New York Times suggests the product will be more appealing to businesses than the general public.
The headset is unique among Apple’s recent major product initiatives in that is not expected to be a mass consumer product out of the gate. Unlike the iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch, Apple is forecasting pessimistically. Some reports indicate Apple expects to sell a mere one million units in its first year.
The headset is seen as the first step in a long journey of augmented and virtual reality experience products. The ideal product of lightweight wearable AR glasses are not possible to create with current state of technology, but Apple leadership have decided its better to enter the fray now, than to wait years for the perfect product design to be achievable.
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman today said the device was privately demoed to Apple executives last week at Steve Jobs Theater, in the run up to the expected June debut.
The first-generation Apple mixed reality headset will be state-of-the-art — with high-resolution displays, advanced cameras and sensors, and a powerful Apple Silicon chip all housed in a carbon fiber enclosure — but it will also be very expensive. Rumors indicate a price point around $3,000. Trademark filings indicate the product will be branded as ‘Apple Reality Pro’.
A second-generation headset is already in development (targeting a late-2024 or early-2025 debut) that will be significantly cheaper, although possibly still expensive to be a big hit.