Kuo: Apple losing AR lead to low-cost competitors, lack of software innovation to blame

Posted:
in General Discussion edited April 12
Apple is frittering away its lead in the augmented reality space after setting a rapid pace with ARKit in iOS 11 and advanced hardware in iPhone and iPad, according to KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who sees Chinese upstart Oppo gaining ground with less complex -- and less expensive -- solutions.




Kuo in a note to investors seen by AppleInsider says Apple's lead in AR has been "significantly narrowed" by Oppo, which has in part caught up to the iPhone maker thanks to solid hardware and software integration. The analyst believes it took the Chinese electronics manufacturer only six to nine months to arrive at a workable platform on par with Apple's offerings.

Whereas Apple employs a bespoke AR platform with customized A-series processors, closed-loop cameras, gyroscope and other equipment, Oppo was able to recreate similar digital experiences with low-cost components. According to Kuo, Oppo relies on CPUs made by Qualcomm and MediaTek, an open-loop camera system and acceleration sensor, hardware common to many Android handsets.

Apple's first-to-market ARKit technology, which goes beyond first-party hardware and software to include a development tool in ARKit, afforded the company a comfortable early lead, but developers have yet to deliver a "heavyweight" iOS-only app, Kuo says. The analyst argues Apple's software innovations, or lack thereof, are to blame for the supposedly ceded ground.

"We believe Apple's biggest challenge in innovation in recent years has been in software, not hardware," Kuo writes. "In several cases we have seen Apple lagging in software versus hardware development, which bodes badly for its innovation strategy of software and hardware integration."

Kuo offers one piece of circumstantial evidence to back up his claim: an as yet unreleased game scheduled to launch with compatibility for Apple and Oppo handsets. A demo of the AR version of Tencent's popular title Honour of Kings shows the game has "much higher" requirements than existing AR apps, Kuo says. That Oppo is able to meet those requirements demonstrates Apple's squandered lead.

The key to Oppo's success is similar to Apple's process of owning the stack, from hardware to software. While it does not oversee Android as Apple does iOS, Oppo has focused on hardware-software integration to reach its goals. To develop its AR solution, which Kuo believes is ahead of Google's own ARCore, Oppo worked with facial-recognition startup SenseTime. The Chinese AI startup just completed a massive $600 million funding round led by Alibaba.

In addition to internal efforts, Oppo is showing a willingness to collaborate with outside parties. As noted by Kuo, the phone maker worked with Tencent's development team to build out support for Honour of Kings, likely explaining why Oppo is the only non-iOS device to offer compatibility at launch.

Oppo's extraordinary effort to support a single game -- albeit one of China's biggest with 200 million monthly active players as of last July -- is commendable, but whether the progress validates assertions that the company's AR tech is on par with Apple integrations remains to be seen.

Kuo suggests China's handset makers are building out their own AR standards which, as seen with Oppo, use cheap, readily available hardware. Further, Oppo could choose to open its AR technology to other Chinese firms, a move that might negatively impact iPhone sales.


Apple's ARKit on display at Apple Park's visitor center.


How, exactly, Apple is lacking in the software department is left unmentioned, though the company has taken flak for coming up short on recent platform releases. Bugs, security holes, general user interface inconsistencies and a dearth of new functionality have prompted more than a few quibbles from users.

In terms of AR innovation, Apple's ARKit delivered a developer solution for creating compelling apps well before a viable option was available for Android. Building on that foundation, Apple recently introduced ARKit 1.5 with the release of iOS 11.3 last month, presenting a refreshed framework with improved mapping for irregularly-shaped surfaces, increased resolution and enhanced image recognition capabilities.

The company is expected to announce future AR initiatives and perhaps ARKit 2.0 at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 30
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 29,753member
    Oh, bullshit. Kuo must be trying to pump Oppo for a quick profit. Good luck, “Ming”. LOL.
    racerhomie3macpluspluschasmcornchipStrangeDayswatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 2 of 30
    genovellegenovelle Posts: 724member
    So this company spent how much to get one game working on their cheap hardware?  

    randominternetpersoncornchip1983watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 3 of 30
    Yeah. I would say Pokémon Go is a good ARkit hit.
    It does work very well on iOS .
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 30
    Great news 💪🖖
  • Reply 5 of 30

    AR will make a transition from novelty tech to indispensable tech, really augmenting reality in useful ways. When that happens, I think the foundation that Apple has laid with AR Kit will give them a real lead.

    Right now, AR is still in a nascent stage and it hasn't reached that threshold where it just breaks into the mainstream.

    StrangeDayswatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 6 of 30
    Here's an analogy anyone can understand.

    Apple is like a Porsche 918 and Oppo is like your cousin's souped-up Subaru WRX.
    jkichlinecornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 30
    So the two platforms that can run this start of the art title are tens of millions of iPhones and some phone by a company that made a name for itself with a niche upscaling DVD player?   Can anyone in America even buy an OPPO phone?  Oh, is OPPO the latest iPhone killer??
    cornchipSpamSandwichStrangeDays1983watto_cobrabrucemcjony0
  • Reply 8 of 30
    asciiascii Posts: 5,813member

    AR will make a transition from novelty tech to indispensable tech, really augmenting reality in useful ways. When that happens, I think the foundation that Apple has laid with AR Kit will give them a real lead.

    Right now, AR is still in a nascent stage and it hasn't reached that threshold where it just breaks into the mainstream.

    Thanks right, AR is still really new and it's too early to be talking about who is in the lead and who isn't. People are still looking for the killer app.
  • Reply 9 of 30
    NY1822NY1822 Posts: 515member
    D.E.D just bookmarked this article 
    Rayz2016watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 30
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,534member
    True or not AR is the last thing i think about when buying an iOS device.   Beyond that kilker apps (if they even happen) come from developers not Apple.   Frankly i see it as a very sad day for humanity if AR sweps over us like seen in the movies.  People need to become more connected to reality not disconnected.  
    avon b7frantisek1983
  • Reply 11 of 30
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 2,602member
    So the two platforms that can run this start of the art title are tens of millions of iPhones and some phone by a company that made a name for itself with a niche upscaling DVD player?   Can anyone in America even buy an OPPO phone?  Oh, is OPPO the latest iPhone killer??
    By the time AR becomes truly useful, everyone will be able to use it as the hardware will be everywhere.

    As for Oppo being a niche DVD player manufacturer, remember Apple used to be a niche computer manufacturer and it doesn't even have the word computer in its name now.

    I'm not sure where you are pointing with the availability of Oppo products in the US. What is important is availability in China and/or the rest of the world.

    There are a few iPhone killers out there already but unfortunately you may not have easy access to them.
    wonkothesane
  • Reply 12 of 30
    FatmanFatman Posts: 148member
    Chinese companies continue to shamelessly steal and copy, it’s their nature. From knockoff Pixar movies to their military fighter jets. They just cannot seem to innovate, only to make cheap imitations, that never capture the experience of the American and European designs they dupe.
    watto_cobrabrucemc
  • Reply 13 of 30
    wizard69 said:
    True or not AR is the last thing i think about when buying an iOS device.   Beyond that kilker apps (if they even happen) come from developers not Apple.   Frankly i see it as a very sad day for humanity if AR sweps over us like seen in the movies.  People need to become more connected to reality not disconnected.  
    Even I am one of those holding phone a lot os time in my hand, I agree very much with that.

    And my question is what is real usage of AR for regular user? Placing IKEA home stuff? CHanging haircut? Measuring my flat or anything else? The third one can be usefull but how often one do this.

    But I am missing Text prediction for my language, dual language autocorrect for my languasage, Siri, multiline text expansion, easy to use text translation, easy waz to share contact details from withing iMessage (none of iMessage app is worth attention and fát from dumb Nokia feature phone), keeping text i have written when reply to notification but phone fell to sleep and many tiny things. We have saying. 1000 times nothing killed the bull.

  • Reply 14 of 30
    jkichlinejkichline Posts: 1,295member
    Good luck getting your platform to a billion users then. Apple has a well established base and millions upon millions of devices that can run their software. Oppo’s only choice is to play catch-up. In a few months, Apple will announce the next iteration of ARKit which will likely have more hardware integration.
    watto_cobrabrucemc
  • Reply 15 of 30
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,031member
    jkichline said:
    Good luck getting your platform to a billion users then. Apple has a well established base and millions upon millions of devices that can run their software. Oppo’s only choice is to play catch-up. In a few months, Apple will announce the next iteration of ARKit which will likely have more hardware integration.
    If they're making use of ARCore it may not be an issue. I don't know that they are tho. 

    EDIT: Reading the AI article more carefully I see that Oppo has developed their own AR system, and with cooperation from some big Chinese players to help make it successful. Interesting stuff then. 
    edited April 12
  • Reply 16 of 30
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 2,602member
    jkichline said:
    Good luck getting your platform to a billion users then. Apple has a well established base and millions upon millions of devices that can run their software. Oppo’s only choice is to play catch-up. In a few months, Apple will announce the next iteration of ARKit which will likely have more hardware integration.
    Millions upon millions of devices but not the huge uptake in AR use in spite of having the platform sitting there ready to take advantage of it. What does that tell us?

    I'm part of that platform but have yet to use it. I suppose there are millions more like me.

    By the time something compelling comes along virtually everyone will have access to AR platforms.

    If AR had hit the ground running it would be a different story but that didn't happen.
  • Reply 17 of 30
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,733member
    Another BS quip from Kuo, remember he said just months ago Apple had 2 years lead.
    Also, getting your tech in the hand of consumer so app devs can make money is somehow totally forgotten by "genius" Kuo.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 30
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,102member
    Nonsense article, AR is nowhere near primetime even on iOS devices yet, and the idea that you lose a lead in a few months is crazy. iOS devices are by far the biggest AR devices on the planet, and Apple will produce dedicated AR soon enough. 
    StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 30
    palegolaspalegolas Posts: 1,270member
    I think AR needs glasses to truly be interesting. Anything up until that feels to me more like research for the real deal.
    Sure, there are probably applications where it can still be useful on a phone, but I think when the lightweight AR glasses start to arrive, that's when we'll see how well it works. Magic Leap seems interesting.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 30
    Who cares about OPPO? Hardly anyone buys their hardware in the U.S. or even world.

    AR is in every iPhone, iPad, and potentially every Mac. 

    The problem of AR is that it sucks.  Does it solve any problem other than games?  Hardly.

    AR requires developers to create apps that use AR. 

    Does anyone develop for OPPO? Hardly.

    Does anyone develop for Apple? Millions.


    watto_cobra
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