Apple's 'most complicated product' is heading for launch, says analyst

Apple's mixed-reality headset means tough times for rivals but a boost to the overall market.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer
The Apple Computers Store in Sydney Australia
Image: Phillip Danze / Getty Images

Apple will likely announce its mixed-reality headset in January 2023, according to tech analyst and Apple-watcher Ming-Chi Kuo. 

Kuo made the prediction as part of an analysis of the wider virtual-reality (VR) headset market, and said Apple's kit will be a "game changer" that causes competitors to mimic it as they play catch-up. The device will also give a boost to demand for immersive gaming and multimedia entertainment. 

According to Kuo, who gathers insights about Apple's future products through supply-chain checks, Apple's technology would support "video see thru" functionality for an "excellent immersive experience". 

SEE: Metaverse: Momentum is building, but companies are still staying cautious

Apple was rumored to be announcing its headset at its developer conference in June but the event passed without a mention of an AR device -- only some improvements to its ARKit. Apple reportedly has an advanced prototype, but it's not ready to reveal it to the world just yet. 

Previous reports have also suggested 2023 as the likely release timeframe for the headset. Apple recently registered trademarks for its "RealityOS" or rOS. The device will also be packed with sensors. 

Kuo predicts Apple's headset would be a "game changer" for existing players, including Sony, Microsoft, Valve, HTC and, in particular, Facebook's parent, Meta.  

"Apple AR/MR would be the most complicated product Apple has ever designed, so many existing suppliers are also in the Apple AR/MR supply chain," wrote Kuo. 

Apple's significant competitive advantages over rivals means it also doesn't need to join the recently founded Metaverse Standards Forum whose members include Meta, Microsoft, Alibaba, Huawei, Qualcomm, Sony, IKEA and Wayfair. 

"After Apple launches AR/MR headset, I think Apple's global rivals will compete to imitate it, leading the headset hardware industry to the next stage of rapid growth and benefiting the related services and content ecosystem," wrote Kuo

He also notes that Meta is reducing its investments in VR hardware due to the recession. Also, Meta has cut VR headset orders "due to the risk of recession caused by structural challenges in its core business of advertising and social platform (e.g., iPhone privacy policy changes)."

Meta's current strategy to sell its headsets at a loss is unsustainable amid the risk of economic slowdown affecting its core businesses.

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