Apple’s highly anticipated mixed-reality headset, potentially named Reality Pro, is set to be unveiled at WWDC 2023, less than a month away. Numerous rumors have surfaced in recent months, and the Wall Street Journal has now published its own comprehensive article, providing further details that align with previous reports.
According to insiders familiar with Apple’s production, the headset will resemble a pair of ski goggles and will fully enclose the user’s eyes to enhance immersion. As a mixed-reality device, the inclusion of external cameras will enable users to view the real world while also experiencing augmented reality projections. This combination of features is expected to offer a unique and immersive experience.
The WSJ article also verifies a crucial aspect regarding the headset’s comfort and weight. To achieve this, Apple plans to incorporate an external battery pack that is anticipated to be compact enough to fit comfortably in one hand.
The report acknowledges that this design compromise deviates from Apple’s usual approach and acknowledges that the headset will initially be introduced in an experimental state. Nevertheless, it is still anticipated to outperform competing products significantly. According to some individuals who have had the opportunity to test the headset, it surpasses its competitors in terms of both immersion and performance.
The price tag attached to the headset is rumored to be around $3,000, a premium cost when compared to the Meta Quest Pro, which recently reduced its price by $500. Given this substantial price difference, many are speculating whether Apple might be taking a risk by positioning itself in a new and untested product category.
Apple, however, has a history of proving critics wrong by successfully entering unfamiliar markets and quickly becoming dominant players. Examples of this include the iPhone in the smartphone market, the Apple Watch in wearables, and AirPods in true wireless audio.
Looking ahead, Apple’s mixed-reality headset is likely to face significant challenges. Apart from the high price of entry at a time when consumers are more cost-conscious, virtual and augmented reality headsets remain a niche interest. Consequently, Apple’s initial sales targets for the first generation of its headset are modest, with Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicting shipments of only 200,000 to 300,000 units in 2023.
The release of Reality Pro is not expected until at least the fall, despite its introduction at WWDC. The purpose of the initial unveiling is primarily to generate buzz and encourage developers in attendance to start working on compatible apps. Mass production is projected to commence in September, but even this timeline may face challenges due to software integration, production issues, and market dynamics. Apple is prepared for potential setbacks and may adjust its timeline accordingly.
Regardless of any delays, WWDC 2023 will provide an early glimpse into Apple’s new hardware line, the first since the introduction of the HomePod in 2017. The reception and performance of the demos showcased at the event could significantly impact the future of mixed reality, determining whether it remains a niche technology or experiences widespread adoption.