Apple’s blockbuster AirPods sales bode well for ‘Apple Reality Pro’ headset
Thursday September 22, 2022. 03:05 PM , from Mac Daily News
Apple VR/AR headset concept by Antonio DeRosa
Max Chafkin for Bloomberg Businessweek:
Its code name is N301, though trademark filings suggest its real name may be the Apple Reality Pro. Those filings, and the early word, hint that the device’s components will probably blow away the VR headsets made by Facebook, Sony, and HTC. Apple’s version of VR seems likely to look better, run faster, and feature more immersive graphics.
Apple has been working on its headset for seven years, and the project now has about 2,000 employees, including the guy who was previously running VR development for NASA. Today’s VR market, however, is still minuscule by Apple standards. Facebook, which renamed itself Meta Platforms Inc. as part of an expression of its commitment to the metaverse, as VR is sometimes described, accounted for almost 80% of headsets sold last year, according to market research firm IDC. The entirety of that business represents a little more than 0.5% of Apple’s overall revenue, which sounds less like a fundamental strategic shift and more like what the company makes selling fancy iPhone cases.
…[Enter] arguably the tech industry’s biggest success story of the past decade: AirPods.
Apple doesn’t disclose sales of its headphones—its quarterly filings lump AirPods in with its watches, home speakers, and other accessories—but outside analysts say it sold 120 million or so pairs in 2021. IDC and Bloomberg Intelligence estimates suggest that AirPods account for roughly half of sales of what Apple calls “Wearables, Home and Accessories,” its fastest- growing line of business. From 2016 to 2021, sales in this category rose by 245%, to $38 billion. Piper Sandler Cos., the investment bank, estimates that 3 in 4 US teens own AirPods. Apple has set the standard for wireless headphones and turned a free pack-in accessory into a $200 must-buy.
MacDailyNews Take: The initial “Apple Reality Pro” mixed-reality headset will be panned by the usual suspects as “too costly,” “lacking content,” “weird-looking,” “the most expensive headset in the world and it doesn’t appeal to business customers because it doesn’t have a keyboard which makes it not a very good email machine,” etc.
The fact will be that Apple’s smartgoggles will be expensive, cool, and niche, but it’s the subsequent Apple smartglasses that will change the world.
The big, “pricey” VR headset will, in part, exist as a means for developers to build the next killer AR apps for true, light, powerful Apple smartglasses. – MacDailyNews, February 4, 2021
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