It’s no secret that Apple Inc. has been working on its own mixed-reality headset for years now. But after a steady stream of patent leaks and Apple’s acquisitions of AR firms circulated among tech insiders, the rumors are finally confirmed.
Last week, a Bloomberg report revealed that Apple demonstrated a proprietary HMD (head-mounted display) with both AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) capabilities to its board of directors. According to the report, the device is slated to hit the consumer market sometime in 2023.
When Apple’s mixed-reality tech goes on sale, it is going to face some stiff competition in the formerly niche VR market, chiefly from fellow tech titan Meta (formerly Facebook), which currently controls 80% of the market thanks to its flagship Quest 2 hardware and metaverse hype. But Apple has a few advantages that could clinch it the win in the battle for VR dominance.
For a start, Apple has a proven track record in shifting high-end hardware for the consumer market, including wearable tech, such as the Apple Watch and Airpods. Consumers are finicky about wearable tech’s aesthetics, but Apple’s strong focus on design could make VR tech into a fashionable form that people would be proud to wear or have in their homes. Another notable factor is the Cupertino company’s use of custom-built chips, historically powerful enough to deliver premium performance in their trademark sleek and compact style.
Finally, Apple has already laid the groundwork for a mixed-reality ecosystem in its current products, including gesture controls, Memojis, AR games, live text in photos, and shared media on FaceTime. If Apple can position its upcoming HMD as an enhancement of what users already love about the company’s ecosystem and brand, then it can take the same premium position in the VR/AR market as it does with smartphones.
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