Although Apple is expected to launch a mixed reality product sometime this year, don’t expect it to push its users into the metaverse, according to a prominent observer from the company.
Observer Mark Gurman, who writes the Power On newsletter for Bloomberg, wrote in the latest issue of the publication that the metaverse will be “off limits” for Apple’s alternate reality products.
“I have been directly told that the idea of a completely virtual world that users can escape, as they can in Meta Platforms / Facebook’s vision of the future, is off limits to Apple,” he wrote.
He noted that Apple believes that new visitors to the virtual space will be more interested in the “bursts” of activity than in the immersive experience powered by Mark Zuckerberg and company.
“Over time, everyone expects these VR headsets to be lighter, less flashy, and have longer battery life, but for the foreseeable future, they will be devices for session-based experiences,” observed Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Grid Research, a consumer technology advisory firm in New York City.
“You won’t be wearing them all day,” he told TechNewsWorld.
Head-mounted hardware will remain cumbersome for years to come, added Gene Munster, co-founder of Loup ventures, a venture capital firm in Minneapolis.
“Apple is being smart to focus on shorter experiences that are easier to use,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Over time, Apple will likely have glasses that they wear all day.”
Embracing augmented reality
Rubin pointed out a few additional reasons why Apple might be avoiding the metaverse right now.
“They may not see a clear revenue model yet,” he said. “They tend to focus on broad business opportunities, although their first headphones are rumored to be more of a professional development tool.”
He also noted that a strategy implemented by Apple in the past is to stay behind to watch a market develop.
“Then when the hype wears off, they jump in and put their own spin on something,” he explained.
“If the metaverse became the successor to the web, I’m sure Apple would want to find a way for its users to participate in that, but that’s a long way off,” he added.
Apple’s adoption of augmented reality could also be playing a role in its rejection of the metaverse.
“Apple may believe that AR is more for short interactions (checking information on the fly) and not a totally immersive world,” observed Kevin Krewell of San Jose, California, principal analyst at Tirias Research, a high-tech research and consulting firm.
“I think Apple doesn’t want to create an alternate world,” he told TechNewsWorld. “It wants to augment the real world, which is why Apple has always favored AR over VR.”
“If you look at Apple’s AR kit development tool, it’s clear that Apple is focusing a lot on AR, not VR,” added Tim Bajarin, president of Creative strategies, a technology consulting firm in San José, California.
“Virtual reality is great for immersive gaming and for use in certain vertical markets, but Apple believes that delivering enhanced AR data that can be overlaid in the real world is where they should put most of their strategy and energy,” he told TechNewsWorld.
Danger of avoiding the metaverse
Apple’s virtual world strategy could work if the metaverse fails to attract consumers. It could even affect large Meta / Facebook layouts for the space by diminishing interest in VR.
“The metaverse, as defined by Zuckerberg, is focused on virtual reality and is based on a closed 3D environment,” Bajarin explained. “Virtual reality glasses will be needed to deliver truly immersive 3D experiences.”
“Apple’s glasses approach will outsell VR headlines because it has a broader target audience,” he said.
However, Apple could be ignoring the metaverse at its own risk.
“Avoiding the metaverse will hurt Apple’s hardware prospects,” Munster said.
“The lines between the real and virtual worlds will blur and the metaverse will be central to those virtual worlds,” he explained. “If Apple wants to build a massive portable device business, then it must have hardware that works with the metaverse.”
Given the rumored price points for Apple’s AR glasses of $ 1,000 to $ 3,000, they likely won’t fly off the shelves, even if they have metaverse support.
“We still have a few years to go before mass-market handhelds are priced at around $ 500,” Munster noted.
“The likely startup headset that we expect Apple to introduce in 2022 and ship in 2023 will likely cost close to $ 3,000,” he said.
“Over time,” he continued, “Apple will learn from the few units that are implemented, make changes to the hardware and reduce the price to the point where it is essential, just like the iPhone today.”
Krewell noted that price is never an obstacle for some consumers, especially when it comes to Apple products. “Apple things have never been cheap,” he said. “The technology will probably be quite expensive for now, but that won’t stop early adopters from buying it.”
Still a novelty
Despite the attention the metaverse has been attracting in some tech circles, the domain remains largely undeveloped. “Many consumers have been exposed to virtual reality,” Rubin said. “They tried an Oculus or played a PlayStation game with VR.”
“At this point,” he continued, “we are in the novelty phase. It’s not mainstream yet. “
Munster noted that younger consumers have embraced the metaverse, as Roblox’s success demonstrates.
“Most consumers and tech folks still don’t know what form it will take,” he said, “which puts them in the category of indifferent.”
“Consumers have little interest in the metaverse right now,” Bajarin added. “It is a nebulous term that is still being defined.”
Tuong Nguyen, Senior Principal Analyst at Gardener, explained that consumer reaction to the metaverse is heavily influenced by the “version” of the metaverse they have heard about.
“If they found out through Facebook / Meta, they have a different reaction than if they found out from Microsoft, Roblox or Niantic,” he said.
“The challenge here,” he added, “is that these tend to be aspects, applications, or use cases of the metaverse, but not necessarily representative of the metaverse as a whole.”
“It’s like asking consumers what the Internet means to them,” he explained. “You can get a handful of examples, like” is Twitter “or” YouTube “or” search “or” email. “
“By Gartner’s definition of a metaverse,” he concluded, “it doesn’t really exist yet.”