Apple's mysterious AR-VR headset has been delayed by software 'issues' says analyst

Shipments of Apple mixed reality headsets could be delayed to the second half of 2023. Will consumers be keener to buy by then?
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer
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Apple is tipped not to be able to ship its long-rumored mixed AR and VR headset until the second half of 2023 due to "software-related issues", according to noted Apple-focused analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. 

Kuo had previously estimated Apple would ship its mixed reality headset en masse by the second quarter of 2023, but now believes it will slip to the second half of 2023 after surveying the supply chain. 

"My latest survey indicates that the mass shipment schedule of Apple's MR headset may delay to 2H23 because of software-related issues (vs. the previous estimate of 2Q23)" Kuo said in a tweet.

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He was looking at the question of how a delay in mass shipment of the headset could impact the optical industry supplying components for Apple's new hardware, such as Primary for the eyeball tracking module, Cowell for the camera module, Genius for the pancake optics, and Largan for the lens. 

Kuo reckons mass shipments of components for the device will be likely in the first half of 2023 or the second quarter 2023, but delays will make it likely Apple only ships about 500,000 units. The market, he notes, believes Apple would ship 800,000 to 1.2 million units in 2023. 

"It still needs to be determined whether the media event schedule (previously estimated in January 2023) will also delay, but usually, if the time frame between the media event and end product mass shipment is too long, it's detrimental to promotion and sales."

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Reports this summer from Bloomberg indicated Apple was gearing up to launch a mixed reality headset at some point in 2023. Law firms linked to Apple filed for trademark applications in several countries for the names "Reality One", "Reality Pro" and "Reality Processor". Apple also has the name RealityOS.    

It would be the first major new hardware category in seven years, the last time being the Apple Watch. 

According to Bloomberg, Apple has been internally testing two models called "N301" – its earliest prototype – and "N602" that could launch next year. There's also a lightweight set of augmented reality glasses codenamed "N421", but these aren't expected to launch until later in the decade. 

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Apple's headset is expected to be much more expensive than Meta's sub-$500 Quest 2, perhaps more in line with Meta's Quest 2 Pro at $1,500. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman estimates Apple's headset will cost between $2,000 and $3,000 and will be equipped with a Mac-level M2 chip, over 10 cameras outside and inside the device, and very high-resolution displays. 

Apple's first version of realityOS is called "Oak" and was reportedly ready for hardware next year. But, according to Gurman, Apple is also renaming realityOS to "xros", where "XR" stands for extended reality. A shell company has also applied for trademarks for the name, but Apple could still end up going with realityOS. 

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