This year, Apple is expected to release an AR/VR headset, which will be a completely new product for the company. Recently, both insiders and analysts, as well as many developers within the company, have paid the most attention to it. Most likely, the new gadget will be demonstrated at the WWDC 2023 developer conference.
But as reported by the Financial Times, not everyone in the company agrees with this decision.
The development team believes that the launch of such technology should wait. Currently, the product is expensive and not very ergonomic (the estimated cost of the first model will be approximately $3,000, which is due to the expensive OLED displays with 4K resolution and the number of various sensors, and the device will be really bulky, roughly the size of a ski mask, and also considerable weight, battery life of about a couple of hours, etc.).
Because of this, the developers suggested waiting with the launch until the device was brought to the stage of AR glasses. But the problem is that this option requires several more years of work. Management, namely Tim Cook and Jeff Williams, believe that it is impossible to wait and insist on an earlier launch.
And although lighter and more comfortable glasses are in the future, according to the company’s plan, it should be an iterative product, the prerequisite for which will be the headset in its current technical form. Cook and Williams are convinced that even with all the imperfections and the high price, the headset needs to be released right now. At the same time, in the first year, the company does not even plan to sell many copies (about a million), compared to the sales figures of other categories of devices that are already in the Apple Store.
The Financial Times comments on this situation as follows:
Apple’s operations team wanted to ship a “version one” product, a ski goggle-like headset that will allow users to watch an immersive 3D video, perform interactive workouts or chat with realistic avatars through a revamped FaceTime. But Apple’s famed industrial design team had cautioned patience, wanting to delay until a more lightweight version of AR glasses became technically feasible. Most in the tech industry expect that to take several more years.
Additionally, it is noted that such decisions are related to historical changes in the company’s structure. Under Steve Jobs, he and the development team made most of the decisions, with the operations department helping with that. Now the situation has changed: with Tim Cook, the operations department has more power and visibility in the management of the company.
There have also been quite a few personnel changes, such as Jony Ive leaving Apple in 2019. His successor, Evans Hankey, also announced a similar decision this year. The company has yet to name a successor, and in the meantime, the design team will report to operations director Jeff Williams.
Along with this, the launch of the headset will become one of the historical assets of Tim Cook, who has already talked about his plans to retire during the next decade. Previously, under his leadership, the company managed to launch the Apple Watch in 2015, and the mixed reality headset could be Mr. Cook’s second and last truly new gadget for the company.
So, even without expecting a crazy demand, Apple management is still counting on the favorable acceptance of the gadget by the supporters of the brand, which will allow further development and improvement of the technology.