Tech experts are watching with suspicion as Apple CEO Tim Cook prepares to unveil the company’s mixed-reality headset, most likely at a company event next month.
- The mixed-reality headset will most likely be sold under the Reality name and will use the new xrOS operating system and will sell for $3,000.
- Though several tech companies have poured billions of dollars into a virtual reality (VR) headset development, none have created a product that has been successful with consumers, Bloomberg reports.
- The device, which has been in development for seven years, looks far different from Cook’s original vision of everyday-looking eyeglasses and instead looks more like a pair of ski goggles.
- For Cook, the success of the headset will represent one of his final product releases at Apple, as the CEO is expected to retire between 2025 and 2028.
Why it’s news
The release of the mixed-reality headset represents the final product of Apple’s multibillion-dollar investment. Some within the company have suggested that it will be the foundation of a world without iPhones, Bloomberg reports.
Despite Apple’s reputation for redefining technology with its versions of tech gadgets, some doubts surround the device.
Other companies have pursued mixed-reality technology but with little success. Augmented-reality company Magic Leap raised $3.5 billion for the development of a general-use mixed-reality headset. However, it eventually shifted its focus to a less ambitious version targeted at the enterprise market.
Facebook parent company Meta Platforms has also struggled to develop a satisfactory headset, despite its focus on the metaverse. In 2021, when Facebook became Meta, it aimed to create a line of VR headsets, but the company is no closer to that vision than it was years ago. Now, the company seems to be backtracking on its metaverse plans.
Microsoft, too, has a headset. The first version of its HoloLens came out in 2016, but it had limited success with consumers and is not the gaming device the company hoped, Bloomberg reports.
Apple’s design shift from a pair of eyeglasses to a pair of goggles indicates that the company has not been able to overcome some similar challenges other developers faced. Other features like multi person video calls are less advanced than Apple had planned, sources told Bloomberg. Apple has also been unable to solve the problem of where to attach the device’s battery. It will be attached to the headset with a cord, and users will carry it in their pockets.
Former Apple marketing executive Michael Gartenberg says the headset could be “one of the great tech flops of all time.” In his view, there is little market demand for the device, judging by the limited success of competitors’ headsets. “I suspect there’s a lot of internal pressure for the next big thing,” he says.
The June product launch will reveal whether or not Apple has been able to deliver a successful product, despite compromising on many of its earlier promises.