With bated breath, tech-savvy individuals and iOS enthusiasts have waited for Apple to release the new Reality Pro AR/VR headset but if the latest report is anything to go by, the device is an utter disappointment. Even top executives of the company question its potential and are apparently dissociating themselves from the device.
According to a Bloomberg report, the Reality Pro VR headset is significantly compromised despite Apple spending billions of dollars in research.
Amid the mounting internal skepticism, Apple is considering releasing the augmented reality headset almost at cost when compared with the margins the company usually expects from other product lines, the report which featured numerous sources familiar with the project said.
NEW: Apple's New Headset Meets Reality — Ahead of its June 5th debut, inside the device's development, how it has strayed from Tim Cook’s vision of AR glasses, how Apple thinks it will perform, which executives are skeptical and more. https://t.co/PA22g3RZeu
— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) May 18, 2023
Apple CEO Tim Cook’s “Distant” Attitude
The sources cited in the report reveal that the tech giant’s CEO, Tim Cook’s “distant” attitude to the project posed several challenges. His absence was felt as several design changes took effect in the course of the headset’s development.
“His approach was sometimes perceived as indecision, leading to delays and concerns about obtaining sufficient resources. “Tim didn’t throw his weight around the project at all, and this frustrated people,” says another person who worked on the project,” he added.
The project carried on despite several Apple officials expressing dissatisfaction, including Johny Srouji, the company’s hardware executives, and Craig Federighi, the head of software.
While Federighi was worried about the direction the headset project was taking, Srouji is reported to have compared it to a “science project.”
Oh man. From the article, this sounds exactly what I was suspecting. Technology hasn’t reached a point where this idea is feasible. Instead of shelving it, Apple is pushing it out. In the next year, this will be the butt of so many jokes. Come on Apple… You’re better than this.
— Shea Morgan (@sheacanbake) May 19, 2023
Divided Attention – Reality Pro vs. Apple Glasses
Those familiar with the project know that Apple has been building two distinct augmented reality products: The Reality Prohead set, which is expected to incorporate AR and VR in a completely enclosed casing, and the Apple Glasses, which offers a lightweight option – a less conspicuous device that resembles the usual eyeglasses.
The Bloomberg report discovered that Cook was of the opinion that Apple should prioritize Apple Glasses. Instead, development carried on working on the headset first.
“The device Cook will present, say people familiar with a development process that spread over seven years, has deviated far from his initial vision. Initially imagined as a pair of unobtrusive eyeglasses that could be worn all day, Apple’s device has morphed into a headset that resembles a pair of ski goggles and requires a separate battery pack […],” Gurman wrote.
Although the launch of the Reality Pro AR/VR headset is imminent, it is unclear if Apple will ever release the glasses. According to the report, the company has so far spent only 10% of the headset budget on Apple Glasses (N421) with some fearing engineers will need four more years to get the product market ready.
Apple Reality Pro VR Features and Capabilities
Gurman, the reliable Apple tipster, revealed some of the features users can expect from xrOS, the operating system of the headset, starting with an iOS-inspired interface.
The headset will blend reality versions of the most popular iPhone apps such as Maps, Safari, Messaging, Calendar, Notes, Music, Photos, and more.
Exciting news – Apple's mixed reality headsets that power both VR and AR are set to launch soon, and I strongly believe they'll come packed with innovative features. As we're nearing the development conference on June 5th, we'll soon uncover more about this gadget. Can't wait to… pic.twitter.com/ePO9NiEvwX
— Bryan Nexus (@Bryanjnexus) May 17, 2023
Gurman tipped that the primary interface will have a close resemblance to that of the iPhone and iPad. This could be advantageous, as the familiarity of iOS and its user-friendly nature may simplify the adoption of AR and VR for many individuals.
At Cost But Not Cheap As Apple Scales Down Sale Projections
Despite the design compromises, the Reality VR/AR headset may hit the market at $3,000. This price tag suggests that Apple is really not targeting the average tech consumer.
ICYMI, it's rumoured Apple are planning to showcase their AR/VR/MR headset this June.
– It's "experimental" and designed for short playtimes
– MR (mixed reality) is the main focus
– Could be priced at $3,000
– Palmer Luckey (founder of Oculus): "The Apple headset is so good." pic.twitter.com/VTm9HXhUmO
— Loopify ♂️ (@Loopifyyy) May 15, 2023
Gurman opined that Apple mulled over selling the Reality AR headset at a loss, although the company is known to eke out as much as 37% in margins across other products.
It is possible for Apple to release the headset as a beta to a limited group of developers this summer ahead of a bigger and final launch, perhaps not earlier than fall or early 2024.
The Bloomberg report says that Apple originally planned to sell three million headsets every year but is currently focusing on scaling down the projections to 900,000 units, which is a significant decrease.
Numerous companies have tried to promote mixed reality headsets from niche devices into mainstream products, but none have truly achieved this goal.
While Meta Quest 2 has found commendable success, it remains a dominant player within a limited market. The Reality Pro headset and xrOS may capture the interest of Apple enthusiasts, but they too could cater to a narrow audience if Apple fails to develop a captivating consumer AR/VR headset.
Historically, Apple’s entrance into any market often leads to significant disruptions and sets new benchmarks for competitors to emulate. Consequently, the xrOS and Reality Pro could potentially become some of the most thrilling products Apple has introduced in recent years.
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