Apple headset ‘the greatest thing that could happen to this industry’

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Apple headset 'the greatest thing that could happen to this industry'

There are very mixed views as to whether the Apple headset and its successors can be the device to transform AR/VR from a niche interest to a mass-market product. But a report today says that those working within the sector firmly believe that it can.

Oculus founder Palmer Lucky said last month that the Apple headset is “so good,” and others in the business are said to be “jubilant” at today’s announcement …

Virtual Reality has so far been a niche market

While a number of tech companies got massively excited about VR headsets, they have so far failed to set the world on fire.

Mark Zuckerberg was so convinced that VR was the future that he renamed Facebook to Meta, and hyped up the metaverse as a place that would play an increasingly important role in our lives. Instead, it’s been almost a complete flop, as a WSJ piece late last year noted.

Nearly a year after Mark Zuckerberg rebranded Facebook as Meta Platforms Inc in a bet-the-company move on the metaverse, internal documents show the transition grappling with glitchy technology, uninterested users and a lack of clarity about what it will take to succeed […]

Most visitors to Horizon generally don’t return to the app after the first month, and the user base has steadily declined since the spring, according to the documents, which include internal memos from employees.

He has now gone from warning investors that the take-off of the metaverse could “take years” to more recently saying it could take “a generation or two.”

Apple thinks augmented reality is the key

Apple CEO Tim Cook has always downplayed VR, arguing that what we want are devices to make us more connected with others, not disconnected – AR, more than VR.

I think AR is a profound technology that will affect everything. Imagine suddenly being able to teach with AR and demonstrate things that way. Or medically, and so on. Like I said, we are really going to look back and think about how we once lived without AR.

But AR hasn’t yet found its place either

Apple is, of course, not new to AR, having first moved into the field in a serious way in 2020 with the inclusion of a LiDAR depth sensor in the iPhone 12 Pro. This made possible more realistic AR views, and has of course been included in all Pro models since then.

All the same, AR still hasn’t taken off in a big way. As I said recently, it “gives great demo.”

AR definitely has a wow effect the first time you use it. I still remember when I was looking at a new coffee machine purchase, the ability to see it in my kitchen on my iPhone really impressed me. I’ve done the same with potential furniture, and it definitely provides an interesting way to look at home decor. But for me, the novelty wore off pretty quickly.

Steve Jobs famously said that a touchscreen Mac “gives great demo” – but the actual experience of using it isn’t so great. I kind of feel that AR gives great demo.

Even Oppo, which recently announced its own mixed-reality headset, says that nobody has yet come up with a persuasive reason to buy one.

Apple headset ‘the single greatest thing’ for the industry

But those working within the VR/AR industry are extremely bullish, says The Verge.

Among AR professionals, the mood is jubilant. “This is the single greatest thing that could happen to this industry,” says Jay Wright, CEO of VR / AR collaboration platform Campfire 3D. “Whether you make hardware or software. We’re excited about it.”

Even the rumored $3,000 price tag isn’t seen as a problem: Reality Pro will simply be the product to show the potential.

Multiple people speculated that Apple’s headset could be like the Tesla Roadster: a flashy, expensive sports car that sold people on the concept of electric vehicles. “Apple makes devices in a way that are actually useful and comfortable to people and make people care about it,” says Jacob Loewenstein, SVP of 3D social platform Spatial, which has appeared on numerous AR and VR devices.

Nor is the lack of any obvious killer app a problem, say analysts.

“One of the reasons why I think Apple is immensely successful in many of their ventures is they’re not just launching a device, they’re launching an ecosystem,” says Gartner analyst Tuong Nguyen, who covers the VR / AR market. “It’s that combination of different applications applied to different use cases for different users — that is the ‘killer app’” […]

“If we were facing rumors of a similar headset made by someone not Apple, I don’t think it would be all that successful,” says IDC research manager Jitesh Ubrani. “Apple has huge scale, huge developer support, huge consumer support — and no one else comes even close to that.”

We’ll of course be bringing you live coverage from today’s event.

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