Virtual Reality

Apple needs another hit, but AR/VR glasses won’t

  • Apple is widely rumored to come out augmented reality/virtual reality glasses in 2023.
  • He needs another hit product. But AR/VR glasses have struggled with consumers.
  • Apple probably won’t succeed in that market either. Here’s why.

With the smartphone market well saturated, Apple must look to new markets for its next big project.

While the iPod led to the iPhone, as I wrote before, Apple’s newer products like Watch or AirPods are nice high-margin additions to sell to iPhone users. But it’s a bit like ordering fries and a drink to go with a burger. They do not create an ecosystem that Apple can develop. They rely on the iPhone ecosystem.

It has long been said that Apple will create a car to take on Tesla. This would be an example of a new market for Apple. But I don’t think an Apple car is coming, and that’s a topic for another time.

What seems likely is that Apple will release rumored augmented reality/virtual reality glasses. 2023 with an operating system called xrOS.

While I’m always excited to see what innovations companies like Apple have in store, I have serious concerns about betting on AR/VR glasses as a growth market.

We’ve seen a few attempts in this space already, including Microsoft HoloLens and Magic Leap. They haven’t exactly taken the world by storm. When was the last time you or someone you know saw someone using these devices at work or in nature? Google Glass, I think it’s safe to say, was a failure. And Snapchat Spectacles aren’t even for sale to the general public, the the company website saysonly to developers.

Then there are VR products like Meta’s Oculus and competitors from Valve, Sony and HP. These have made some inroads with gamers, but years after their introduction, they still represent only a small fraction of the massive video game market.

As for other uses? We haven’t seen any so far, despite Mark Zuckerberg’s Unwavering Belief that the metaverse is the future of our social lives and work meetings and so on.

There is a belief, however, that Apple – which isn’t usually first to market – can step into a space and succeed where no one has before.

When it comes to this market, I’m more than a little skeptical. First and foremost, the battery life of an AR device is a major concern. AR, as Google Glass and Snapchat Spectacles envisioned, is meant to be worn for long periods of time and to overlay digital images and functions on the real world.

While Apple hasn’t released any specs on this front (or any other), it seems highly unlikely that a device in this class will operate for long periods of time without charging. Plus, for all the ways Apple is a leader in designing sleek hardware, battery life isn’t exactly its forte. (In the world of smartwatches, for example, some Garmin devices last up to two weeks, the examiners foundwhile an Apple Watch, in my experience, gives a user two or three days.)

There is also the question of comfort. Glasses aren’t the most comfortable thing to wear for long periods of time. And when you add the weight and bulk of the technology needed for AR and VR, glasses like this become more uncomfortable to wear.

Not to mention the fact that many people simply don’t like to wear glasses, which will limit the market for these products.

Price is another major issue. Microsoft HoloLens costs between $3,500 and $5,200. Apple’s device is generally expected to be in the $1,000 to $1,500 price bracket, even though Apple is known to sell high-end devices with high-end price tags. . But even on the low end, it’s a significant investment for a product that will do much less than a comparably priced MacBook or iPad.

Beyond practical concerns about battery life, comfort, and price, there’s the fundamental problem of the lack of a compelling use case for AR or VR glasses.

While these technologies have exciting potential, it’s not yet clear beyond certain types of video games what the killer app will be to make them a must-have for consumers.

All this to say that while Apple’s AR/VR project may be of interest to die-hard Apple fans and tech enthusiasts who buy into Apple’s marketing machine and line up to buy its products on day one, I don’t think it’s the company. next big thing.

Until Apple, or any other company, can demonstrate a truly compelling reason why large numbers of people want to port augmented reality or add virtual reality to their array of home entertainment options, I’m afraid that the technology struggles to gain widespread adoption. There’s a reason Oculus devices created a category called “cupboards“, a gadget that ends up being put away and forgotten somewhere in a closet.

Michael Gartenberg is a former senior marketing executive at Apple and covered the company for more than two decades as a market research analyst at Gartner, Jupiter Research and Altimeter Group. He is also a shareholder of Apple. He can be reached on Twitter at @Gartenberg.

The thoughts expressed are those of the author.

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