- Apple needs to do what no other tech company has done: make the metaverse cool.
- The iPhone maker is widely expected to launch its mixed reality headset next month.
- The company makes a risky move as the tech world retreats from the metaverse and fixates on AI.
Apple’s track record of creating technology consumers love speaks for itself. But its vaunted status as Silicon Valley’s product king is on the line as the company prepares to do what no tech company has done before: Make the metaverse cool.
Apple is widely expected to take the stage at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) at its headquarters in Cupertino in just a few weeks introduces its mixed reality headset, which has been worked on for years. The stakes couldn’t be higher.
The headset that could be called Reality One and ski goggles, represents Apple’s first major step towards a post-iPhone world – a world intended to offer a more immersive experience of the web by giving people a gateway to virtual and augmented reality.
But at a time when nearly everyone else is interrupting their Metaverse plans to jump on the AI hype, the question remains as to why Apple CEO Tim Cook is pushing the tech Obituaries have already been written for it.
The metaverse needs approval
Betting against Apple is a tough job.
Throughout its history, the company has ushered in new eras in technology; Its leaders have attained cult-like status; and its exacting design standards have made the iPhone a bestseller.
Last year, iPhone sales reached $205.5 billion. per submission. Apple already Grossed $51.3 billion in iPhone sales in the first three months of this year. Those are staggering numbers.
But new signs suggest Apple would have a seriously hard time shipping units for its Metaverse bet. A recently released one Bloomberg investigation revealed that the company originally forecast sales of around 3 million units per year, but revised that number down to 900,000.
This overhaul seems inevitable given how difficult it has been for other Metaverse advocates to get approval for their headsets. Microsoft’s attempt to gain traction via its HoloLens has struggled to gain traction. According to reports, plans for a new model have been scrapped.
Mark Zuckerberg’s meta is another obvious example. Although around 20 million Quest units have been sold, according to The Verge, the company is already in price cut mode to make the headset more attractive. March included the price of its top-end headset reduced by $500.
That 20 million figure isn’t insignificant, and it’s a figure Apple could well reach given positive comments people like Palmer Luckey, Co-founders of Meta’s own VR platform Oculus are to be believed. Although – in stark contrast to Luckey’s comments – a former Apple marketing executive thinks the headset could be it “One of the biggest tech flops of all time.”.”
In any case, the level of involvement Apple needs to justify the cost — over $1 billion annually, according to Bloomberg — is huge.
If technology only offers small improvements in services like messaging, video calls and entertainment that people already get from their iPhones, keeping them off their screens would be a huge challenge.
All eyes are on the AI, not the metaverse
The other problem with Apple’s mission to make the metaverse cool is the fact that there’s already one cool toy that’s getting all the attention: AI.
Since the release of ChatGPT by OpenAI In November, the eyes of tech leaders and industry watchers were all set on generative AI as companies struggled to figure out how best to leverage the technology.
Gene Munster, a managing partner at Deepwater Asset Management and a longtime Apple bull, told Insider he’s disappointed with the lack of publicity Apple has made about AI.
In the last earnings announcement, AI was rarely mentioned Siri seems to be a relic of the past compared to tools like ChatGPT.
That’s especially true as Apple is pushing its mixed reality headset instead. Munster reckons Apple won’t be selling “very many units” of the device in the coming months as the company tries to win over developers before consumers.
Still, Munster says, “It’s a bigger risk if they don’t.” In other words, Apple has more to lose by not going for a mixed reality headset than if it did.
“If you think there’s anything beyond a smartphone, it’s probably the metaverse,” Munster said. “If they miss that, it’s just as bad as missing the phone.”
“Missing Mobile” was Microsoft’s fatal mistake, later lamented by its co-founder Bill Gates because it left the company out in the cold during the smartphone boom.
For Apple’s Cook, the consequences of missing out on this generation’s next big thing could be even worse than for Microsoft. Apple has no choice but to try and make the Metaverse a hit.
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