Apple employees fear MR headset could be an expensive flop

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware
Apple employees are apparently concerned about the company's inbound VR headset, a report claims, with skeptics of the plan worried about the chances of success for the device once it launches.




Apple has allegedly demonstrated its mixed reality headset to its top executives recently, in an attempt to generate excitement for the upcoming platform launch. While executives are keen on the product, others within Apple are not sure it's a home run hit.

Eight anonymous current and former employees told the New York Times that they are skeptical about the headset, despite Apple's apparent glossy demonstration of the technology.

This also includes employees allegedly defecting away from the project entirely because "of their doubts about its potential." Others have also allegedly been fired for not making enough progress on some elements of the headset's features, such as the use of Siri.

Leaders within Apple have also apparently questioned the possibility for the headset to sell well. With design issues surrounding the battery, as well as the expected $3,000 price tag, it seems to be a harder sell to consumers, aside from the most faithful to the company.

Part of the problem is that it is a device in search of a problem, rather than solving an existing one. While the iPod put music in people's pockets and the iPhone revolutionized productivity and communications, some employees feel the headset doesn't have the same clarity to drive it.

There is also some speculation within the company that Apple could delay the release. Products like AirTags were postponed for over a year before release so privacy concerns could be addressed.

However, with manufacturing underway and with a planned launch in June, a delay seems unlikely.

Such a report quoting insiders about Apple's plans are not necessarily accurate in their own right, but the New York Times report is bolstered by reporting elsewhere offering similar notes, including Bloomberg.

There have also been reports that the decision to proceed with the headset in 2023 was also against the advice of Apple's famed industrial design team, who wanted to wait and release lighter AR glasses instead of a headset.

Read on AppleInsider
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 33
    I totally agree that it’s a “device in search of a problem.” I’ve been skeptical from the beginning. I think that a VR/AR headset could be a cool product even though I have never owned such a device. But I see it as nothing more than a cool toy. I never saw it as a revolutionary device that changes the world like the iPhone did.
    Edgecrusherrflyingdpwilliamlondonbaconstangravnorodomgrandact73programmerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 33
    At 3 grand I think it’s gonna bring a lot of people into the Apple Store to check it out, but they’ll make more money on iPhones sold to people who decide to upgrade just because they’re there than they’re will from people buying the headset. 

    I think it feels weird for Apple to launch a device that so many people won’t be able to afford. (Even if people can’t afford a Mac Pro they can still typically afford some kind of Mac.)
    Edgecrusherrwilliamlondonpulseimageswatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 33
    The only way I won’t be a flop is if it can do something truly amazing or life-changing to the level. I can justify the cost that’s how computers, iPods, iPhones, iPads, and mostly watches, have been able to do well. I hope they surprise us, but it took me years to even want an Apple Watch lol. 
    baconstangentropysravnorodomprogrammerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 33
    dutchlorddutchlord Posts: 242member
    $3k for ski goggles? No thanks.
    flyingdpM68000williamlondonurahara9secondkox2ravnorodomgrandact73pulseimagesprogrammer
  • Reply 5 of 33
    CarmBCarmB Posts: 83member
    The $3,000 price point is utterly unworkable. That alone should have caused Apple to simply not release this device. When Apple launched the iPad, the genius of that product, the one element that launched widespread interest in tablets was an excellent price. There were tablets before the iPad but none that delivered a decent, useful product at the right price point. 

    Simply put, $3,000 is not the right price point for any personal media consumption device. This thing is dead on arrival. 
    flyingdpwilliamlondonuraharagrandact73programmer
  • Reply 6 of 33
    d_2d_2 Posts: 121member
    So many judgements… We still need to see the actual:
    - device / form / fit
    - capabilities and functionality
    - price

    williamlondonbyronlJapheythtlolliverwilliamhmike1watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 33
    I would have to agree with this concern. Aside from gaming, I don't see a use for a product like this. I have tried VR headsets. They're nice, but I don't see a need for one. For gaming I will stick with my Xbox. I don't play games on my iPhone very often. Apple talked bout VR in 2017 when the iMac Pro was announced, but there hasn't been much from Apple on in that area since then. I have been wrong about rumored Apple products a couple of times before so I will keep an open mind until I see the product announced. One barrier to widespread adoption is often its price. The original iPod suffered from that problem, but Apple lowered its price pretty quickly, and then released more models to give us more choices. iPod was released right when we started wanting to take our digital music with us everywhere we went. That's why it was a huge hit.
    williamlondonAnilu_777watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 33
    waveparticlewaveparticle Posts: 1,497member
    What things it can do that the flopped Google glasses can't do?
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 33
    Anilu_777Anilu_777 Posts: 559member
    The only use for this I can see is educational and/or scientific research. Perhaps biologists could use it to examine cell structure of certain illnesses such as cancer or sickle cell anemia and use it in 3D to see more. Surgeons could plan a delicate operation using these. Regular consumers? Can’t see a point. 
    byronl
  • Reply 10 of 33
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 1,770member
    Why is it so difficult for people to understand that the first generation models aren’t going to be aimed at the consumer market? 

    It’s not that hard, really. 
    baconstangwilliamhlarryjwtmaywatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 33
    red oakred oak Posts: 1,100member
    The only way I won’t be a flop is if it can do something truly amazing or life-changing to the level. I can justify the cost that’s how computers, iPods, iPhones, iPads, and mostly watches, have been able to do well. I hope they surprise us, but it took me years to even want an Apple Watch lol. 
    Do you realize you are contradicting your own argument?   re: Apple Watch 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 33
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 15,408moderator
    dutchlord said:
    $3k for ski goggles? No thanks.
    The NYT article is from Tripp Mickle who never misses an opportunity to put a negative spin on anything Apple is doing. He, like many bloggers/sensationalist authors, is not in a committed relationship with facts. Apple hasn't announced pricing or form factor.

    The pundits said the same about the iPad, that it would be too expensive and not functional enough.
    What things it can do that the flopped Google glasses can't do?
    Better hardware design first of all. It will have higher resolution video and it will be able to do fully opaque visuals. Better image stability, UI, interaction, ecosystem, apps.

    There's a video here showing some AR using an iPhone (39:00):



    The examples at 41:53 and 42:23 are impressive. The car rolling out of the display onto the keyboard shows what capabilities it has:



    This will be useful for 3D creators and it will add another dimension to movies and games. I don't expect the entry-level launch price to be higher than $1499, it could easily be $799 and have more memory/power on higher models e.g Reality at $799 (M3 or R3 if they have a special chip), Reality Pro at $1499 (M3/R3 Pro).
    baconstanglolliverwilliamhtenthousandthingstmaywilliamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 33
    So when a product is announced priced at $799, "everyone" will say "That's an incredible price, I was expecting it to be 3 grand!"
    lolliverwilliamhmangakattenwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 33
    baconstangbaconstang Posts: 1,130member
    Well, if it turns out to be a reasonably competent product, and it can hang on for 2-3 years, then hopefully the devs will come up with the apps that will make it a viable product.
    It really depends on what you will be able to use it for, beyond gaming and some pro situations.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 33
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,865member
    They are not expecting the 1st gen to be a “success”, but by whose measure? By the analysts for whom anything less that sales in the hundreds of millions is a sign that Apple has lost it’s edge and everyone should dump their stock and hardware and move to Windows and Android for both? Or by Apple’s Management who likely understand that this is a first gen product in a market that doesn’t really exist right now. There area few engineers that might find it useful. People talk about games, but how many immersive 3D games FOR MAC are there, let alone for a new headset with it’s own OS? I’ll tell you how many: ZERO.

     It won’t have iPhone level of sales. But maybe it’ll be on par with the Mac Pro, another professional, small quantity, nich product. If it reaches that, I suspect the Apple Board will be very happy. Massive quantities MAY come later, with software, and if this 3D immersive world Meta and others keep talking about ever materializes. Right now I’m not betting on the latter.
    edited March 2023 watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 33
    jdwjdw Posts: 1,390member
    Marvin said:
    dutchlord said:
    $3k for ski goggles? No thanks.
    The NYT article is from Tripp Mickle who never misses an opportunity to put a negative spin on anything Apple is doing. 
    While I agree that important info should tone down some of the reactions, the fact remains that I was unimpressed back in 2017 when Apple had an on stage game demo of an AR game using a table with nothing on it.  Even if one argues that goggles would make all that better, do I want even a $100 heavy thing on my face for extended periods of time, especially when I am 52 years old and not a gamer at all?  The answer to that question is an emphatic "no."  

    I wonder if the goggles would be popular even among younger people for purposes outside gaming or specialty 3D applications.  And if this forthcoming device is only as popular as the Mac Pro, Apple will likely take a pounding in the press, and AAPL will suffer as a result.

    Who am I?  Well, one of Apple's most loyal, since 1984.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 17 of 33
    genovellegenovelle Posts: 1,481member
    CarmB said:
    The $3,000 price point is utterly unworkable. That alone should have caused Apple to simply not release this device. When Apple launched the iPad, the genius of that product, the one element that launched widespread interest in tablets was an excellent price. There were tablets before the iPad but none that delivered a decent, useful product at the right price point. 

    Simply put, $3,000 is not the right price point for any personal media consumption device. This thing is dead on arrival. 
    For what it is supposed to be, $3000 is the right price. It is to have 10 times the technology built into it. It is the new Lisa that the 21st century Macintosh equivalent will be based on down the road. 

    They can only go so far in secret and need it in the wild to develop it further. They also need more developers with access for more feedback. 
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 33
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,878moderator
    Tim Cook is a supply chain genius.  That means he has a sense of which technologies will come into existence as a natural progression and which need to be forced into existence through pushing hard to create specific products.  It seems like this is a case where the needed technologies need a big push, and that may be a reason to get a not-fully-realized product out into the wild, at least out to software and content creators. 

    But this still leaves me wondering about the killer app.  As another poster pointed out, it's not as though Apple is at the forefront of the gaming world with its current hardware, so it doesn't seem that this is a push for more immersive gaming.  Personally, I think Apple's philosophy on energy efficiency alone has been a big part of why the company participates in gaming mostly at the casual level; it may well be that Apple doesn't want its compute power, and associated power draw, used merely in the pursuit of zombie killing.  Apple wants to advance humanity and it wants it technologies to enhance people's engagement with the real world.  Some kind of mixed reality might be the direction they see for this technology, rather than more immersion into fully virtual realities.  But again, what's the killer app?  I look forward to any insights on that question that Apple may reveal come WWDC.  
    baconstang9secondkox2watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 33
    waveparticlewaveparticle Posts: 1,497member
    Marvin said:
    dutchlord said:
    $3k for ski goggles? No thanks.
    The NYT article is from Tripp Mickle who never misses an opportunity to put a negative spin on anything Apple is doing. He, like many bloggers/sensationalist authors, is not in a committed relationship with facts. Apple hasn't announced pricing or form factor.

    The pundits said the same about the iPad, that it would be too expensive and not functional enough.
    What things it can do that the flopped Google glasses can't do?
    Better hardware design first of all. It will have higher resolution video and it will be able to do fully opaque visuals. Better image stability, UI, interaction, ecosystem, apps.

    There's a video here showing some AR using an iPhone (39:00):



    The examples at 41:53 and 42:23 are impressive. The car rolling out of the display onto the keyboard shows what capabilities it has:



    This will be useful for 3D creators and it will add another dimension to movies and games. I don't expect the entry-level launch price to be higher than $1499, it could easily be $799 and have more memory/power on higher models e.g Reality at $799 (M3 or R3 if they have a special chip), Reality Pro at $1499 (M3/R3 Pro).
    So it may be a TikTok replacement?
  • Reply 20 of 33
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 2,393member
    CarmB said:
    The $3,000 price point is utterly unworkable. That alone should have caused Apple to simply not release this device. When Apple launched the iPad, the genius of that product, the one element that launched widespread interest in tablets was an excellent price. There were tablets before the iPad but none that delivered a decent, useful product at the right price point. 

    Simply put, $3,000 is not the right price point for any personal media consumption device. This thing is dead on arrival. 
    Screw media consumption this should be a media creation device. 
    MacBook Pro killer even for anyone wanting touchscreen Mac. 

    Craft 3d items/scenes and beyond in 3D space. Virtual desktop for un-3d apps,  USBc dock to charge connect to screen/keyboard/mouse for regular Mac-ing. 
    That puts you well in the $3000 product range. 

    Sure several generations down the track can be a mere media consumption device. Even pick on up 4th 5th hand for that.
    watto_cobra
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