A few weeks ago we were told that Apple's AR/VR headset was in trouble – but according to respected industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, it's in rude health and headed for a January 2023 launch. That could be bad news for Facebook and Oculus owner Meta: according to Kuo, it's scaling back its investments in VR because it's been selling its Oculus headsets at a loss and there's a recession coming. So just as Meta takes its eye off the VR ball, Apple could be preparing to kick it into orbit.
The report comes from Ming-Chi Kuo's Medium blog, where he shares his insights on all kinds of tech. According to Kuo, when it comes to AR and VR "Apple is a game-changer for the headset industry" – but Sony is a key player too. "Sony's influence in the gaming/multimedia entertainment industry is more potent that than of Meta." He expects the PSVR 2 to launch in early 2023 and push VR much further into the mainstream. Both Microsoft and Valve are coming later to the party but "both are beneficial to the overall industry."
Here's why Kuo thinks Apple is going to be a VR game changer.
Apple's AR/VR headset will change the game
Although Apple has talked almost entirely about augmented reality, Kuo believes that mixed reality and fully immersive media and gaming will be hugely popular on its headset. While the headset is the most complex product Apple has created to date – at least, that we know about; I imagine the Apple Car is even more complex – Kuo predicts that history will repeat: Apple will launch the product and it'll be so good that the entire industry will rush to copy it. That will lead the headset industry "to the next stage of rapid growth and benefit the related services and content ecosystem."
Kuo's predicted launch date of January 2023 fits with other rumours suggesting the headset will go into production in the Autumn; we know from clues left in App Store logs and code that Apple has a new OS, realityOS, that's been in development for some time. What we don't know yet is the price.
I'm hoping February's rumours of a $3.5K price tag are way off the mark. That was according to tech site The Information, which suggested that the high suggested price was because the bill of materials – the cost of all the components – was over $500. But the BOM for my iPhone 13 Pro, according to Techinsights at least, is $570 – and Apple doesn't sell that for three and a half grand. I'm expecting the Apple AR/VR headset to be expensive, especially at first. But I'm crossing my fingers that it isn't going to be quite as expensive as the rumours so far have suggested.