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Apple recently announced that the World Wide Developers Conference, an annual event where Apple showcases new software features to be held between June 5 to 9, 2023 at Apple Park. What is intriguing is the poster that is accompanied by the announcement.
Yes, usually there’s no correlation between what is announced at the event itself versus what is implied by the poster promoting the said event. But looking at the poster itself will make people speculate a lot about what Apple is going to unveil: new Virtual Reality Glasses.
What We Know
Work has been done for years: When Apple introduces a brand new product or even a product refresh, there was years of work behind the scene to make it happen. And words of this work sometimes leak through the press and sometimes in the code that they release in their software updates.
Mentions of “realityOS” has been out and about for years, and mysterious devices like compute module has also been out.
4K display per eye: There are rumors about the spec of the VR headset where there will be a 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels) display on each eyeball. This is a big step from where the competition only offers far less resolution. The best-selling VR headset the Occulus by Meta only offers 1932 x 1920 pixels per eye while the recently released PS5 VR2 headset offers 2000 xx 2040 pixels.
New kind of display: Rumors are talking about using micro OLED (not to be confused with microLED) displays that allow the screen to be as thin and light as possible. First news of this has been leaked since 2021.
Dual M2/M3 chip: For many, the M2 chip packs quite a punch for a very small package: 8K display support, 24GB RAM support, media engine, and decent graphic package. Rumors circulate that Apple put two of these M2 chips on VR headsets. This will be the most powerful VR on the market compared to other offerings.
See-through mode: During the development of the headset, there was news about the developers wanting to see the eyes of the wearer to make it a better appearance.
Apple might have the resources to make the best VR headset on the planet, but that doesn’t guarantee success. There are many challenges that Apple face
No practical uses: Despite various tech companies trying for many years (and even decades) to build a virtual reality world, VR has not really been in widespread use. This is despite companies building table-size or even room-size displays in which one can interact with screen contents. Why?
No killer app: VR has been around far longer than you think. Recently, tech mega-companies like Meta and Alphabet have poured billions into VR to create the headset and the ecosystem but have yet to show anything out of it. The main reason is there is simply no killer, must-have app that induces people to go to VR.
Apple Tax: With the specs that are rumored to be floated around, one can expect it to be a very premium and niche product. There is one report that Apple’s VR glasses would cost between 3 to 4 thousand US dollars, which makes it a very niche product and a tough sell.
Despite the challenges, Apple, time and time again has a long track record of polishing something that is already existed for years into something new and innovative. The original Mac was a very polished computer. The iPod was a very polished digital music player. The iPhone was a very polished smartphone. The iPad was a very polished tablet computer. AirPods were very polished Bluetooth headphones. Device categories that Apple never invented, but eventually become a big player.
Slow and steady: Apple always has a long view on releasing products. Some of the products aren’t big sellers on day 1, but eventually, become extremely valuable. One argument with Apple’s VR glasses is Apple might take the Apple Watch route. Apple Watch didn’t do great in the first few years, but Apple later figure out that their users have been using it for health monitoring, which they quickly pivot and now Apple Watch is more valuable than the entire Swiss watch industry.
Eventual Pivot: Many of Apple’s recent product categories surprise the general public when it was first unveiled, now they are considered essential products. iPads were the first to brush off as oversized iPhones. The AirPods were thought of as a gimmick since Apple literally destroyed the headphone jack in the same presentation. And Apple Watch didn’t find footing in the first two iterations. Now each of the products made billions of dollars for Apple.
Apple right now is in a precarious situation: they are the victim of their own success. The iPhone and the associated ecosystem are so successful that creating a brand-new product is a very tough challenge. Will Apple’s reality glasses will ever see daylight? One can only wait and see.
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