Many technology fans are waiting for the WWDC 2023 conference, with the opening of which Apple should finally demonstrate its first mixed reality headset – Reality Pro. The company has been preparing for this for years, postponing the announcement several times, spending billions on development and involving a thousand engineers in the project.

And this will be a really important moment for the company, because it is with this gadget that Apple violates many of its standards, making compromises. This is described by Mark Gurman of Bloomberg, based on information from insiders close to the development.

Since the beginning of development, the gadget has made many concessions. For example, the battery will be placed separately from the helmet itself, which should protect the gadget from overheating and reduce weight. Also, some features, such as the virtual workplace with multiple monitors, will not work as originally intended at launch (although this may be fixed in time).

This approach is atypical for Apple, which usually releases technologies in a more ready state, and if it is inferior in something, it is not as fundamental as now. It’s the same with the price: an expensive gadget worth $3,000 can be sold at cost price without making any money on it to begin with. The company even considered the option of making the product unprofitable as an attempt to gain a foothold in the market.

It is more interesting that even among the company’s management there is still skepticism about the headset:

“Key figures in Apple’s top ranks, such as Craig Federighi, senior vice president for software engineering, have also kept their distance and seemed wary of the headset, according to people familiar with the project. Johny Srouji, Apple’s senior vice president for hardware technologies, has privately been a skeptic, likening it to a science project. Internally he’s warned that building the high-performing chips needed for the device could distract from new iPhone chips, which would probably drive more revenue. Srouji’s group did end up developing some of Apple’s most advanced chips to date for the headset, while iPhone speed gains have indeed slowed in recent years,” writes Mr. Gurman.

Tim Cook also “kept his distance” from development. Sometimes, taking extra time for answers, he even confused the team. At the same time, the developers noted the fundamental difference between Cook and Jobs: ” His approach was sometimes perceived as indecision, leading to delays and concerns about obtaining sufficient resources.”

Cook himself was also more interested in the development of augmented reality glasses – Apple Glasses, rather than a hybrid headset. It was from them that the idea began, “a lightweight, unobtrusive device looking much like ordinary eyeglasses” that can be used throughout the day. But gradually it transformed:

After initially setting its sights on a lightweight pair of augmented-reality glasses, Apple gradually drifted toward something that felt more like existing devices because of technological constraints, the desire to get a product on the market and internal disagreements.

Gurman separately notes that Apple Glasses can, in principle, remain a project, and currently only 10% of the Reality Pro team’s resources are involved in their development.

Apple eventually postponed any serious product development on stand-alone glasses for years, all but killing the idea, according to people involved in the process. They say that Apple is at least four years away from introducing any such product, if it ever happens.

A person on the project describes a running joke that engineers were working on the hopeless N421 just to keep Cook happy. By 2019 the company had made little or no headway on developing a viable plan to make AR glasses.