Last week it was at Apple Park's Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino
a gathering of the company's top 100 executives. This was before their annual trip to a resort in Carmel Valley, California. Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman reports this in his current "Power On" newsletter. The meeting was intended to swear the senior Apple people on the upcoming release of the mixed reality headset. However, it should not have brought any exuberant hype, but also and above all a realistic view of the new Apple platform and the market.
The last Fight Club demo before launch?
Demonstrating Apple's mixed reality headset to the company's top 100 executives is said to have been no one-off thing. Since 2018, there has been an annual meeting of this kind, at which the current status of the headset is presented. These meetings, with demonstrations of the latest technology, shall be called the "Fight Club" demo - because the first rule of Fight Club is don't talk (publicly) about Fight Club.
But this secrecy does not seem to be necessary for much longer. The Steve Jobs Theater as this year's meeting place as well as highly polished presentations during the event point to a timely launch. Mark Gurman writes in his newsletter that this year's demonstrations of the MR headset at Apple were more exciting and glamorous than previous years. The company should probably be prepared for a new chapter here. And now as quickly as possible
Apple's new big platform: headsets for VR and AR
The trade press expects the public presentation in June, more precisely for the openingKeynote
the WWDC23. You can read more about this here: When does WWDC23 take place and what will be presented?
The headset, which can be used for virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), is intended to become Apple's new major platform, and thus a new sales market alongside Mac, iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch.
The market launch could be similar to the watch. It might get off to a rocky start, but only over time would broader interest and system improvements and third-party apps result in a viable product. Accordingly, “only” one million units are to be sold in the first year, at around $3.000 each.
A weak market that still needs to be expanded
Apple is venturing into unsafe territory with the headset. Because from the Mac to the iPhone to the Apple Watch, earlier devices consisted of improvements to already known offers. With the Apple Watch, potential users had to be explained a bit more about the meaning of a rather expensive smartwatch – but thanks to the numerous health features, useful third-party apps and Apple's large fitness ecosystem, this has been successful.
The new MR headset has to prove itself in a similar way. Here you can't build on the experience of cheaper products with many (like the watch with other fitness watches). Here a market has to be pushed that is still developing for larger sales. It takes strong reasons why people should want an Apple headset. In addition to gaming and some health and research areas, something more is needed - something for everyday life.
The current status: criticism of hardware and software
The Apple MR headset will certainly be technically at a high level. The screen quality, eye and hand tracking and many other expected features will certainly not be bad either. Nevertheless, the possible innovations are overshadowed by rather negative impressions in advance.
At the above-mentioned meeting last week, the following combination is said to have been viewed rather critically: a price of $3.000, no really outstanding app, an external battery that has to be replaced or charged every few hours, and a design that is probably from was found uncomfortable by some testers. Overall not too good starting conditions, but room for improvement. That at least gives hope for the next versions.
Conclusion: Not a sprint, but a marathon
The Apple Watch was not a complete success at first either. It started with a confusing interface, with rather mediocre apps, an average processor and no fixed area of application. But over time, with tech improvements, a greater focus on fitness and health, and better apps, the watch became a hit.
A similar marathon (with the explanation of the necessity of the device as an extra mile) must also be put down by Apple's MR headset. Unless a niche market emerges that only Apple can play, it will take some time before the headset finds a permanent place in Apple's profit mix alongside the iPhone, Mac, iPad, watch and services.
What do you say to that? Please leave a comment!