Apple sees the virtual reality headset as its next big thing
Apple’s development of VR content and software tools is key to creating experiences that give its future headset a purpose. Its last major new product, the Apple Watch, launched with around 3,000 apps but struggled to take off as tech reviewers said few of those apps were useful. Similar shortcomings plagued the Meta’s Quest virtual reality headset, which topped 10 million in sales last year because many consider it a gaming device.
From its original Macintosh to its iPad, Apple has sought out products that appeal to a wide range of potential customers and have a range of uses. It sold about 240 million iPhones last year, accounting for about half of its $366 billion in total sales. For the headset to be worth it, analysts say, it will need to have utilities that transcend the niche world of video games.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has been talking about the potential of augmented reality for years. In 2016, he told investors the company was investing heavily in it and saw it as a “great business opportunity”. At that time, many employees on Apple’s campus were reading “Ready Player One,” a futuristic virtual reality novel, and talking about the possibilities of creating Apple’s own mixed reality world.
Apple hired an engineer from Dolby Technologies, Mike Rockwell, to lead the effort. Its early efforts to create an augmented reality product were hampered by low computing power, two people familiar with the project said. Ongoing challenges with its battery power forced Apple to delay its release until next year, these people said.
The augmented reality initiative has caused discord within Apple. At least two members of its industrial design team said they left the company, in part because they had concerns about developing a product that could change the way people interact with each other. These sensitivities grew within the company in the middle growing public concern about children’s screen time.
With Mr Rockwell at the helm, the product would be one of the first to come out of Apple led by its engineering team rather than co-founder Steve Jobs, who died in 2011, and former design chief Jony Ive. , who left the company in 2019. The Apple Watch project was led by Mr. Ive and his designers, who defined how it looked, worked and marketed.
Mr. Favreau’s programming shows how Apple tries to differentiate its product from Meta’s. It also illustrates how the company is leveraging the relationships it’s cultivated in Hollywood since launching Apple TV+ in 2019.