In a recent interview with Kara Swisher, Apple CEO Tim Cook, he said he doesn’t think he’s likely to be at the helm of Apple again in 10 years. It’s no surprise: Cook has been leading the company since 2011, he turned 60 this year and he knows Silicon Valley is no country for old men. Before retiring, rumors say, Cook would like to be able to bring to market a new category of products, something as revolutionary as and more than the iPhone, which he can leave as a legacy of his mandate.
That product, according to the most recent rumors, it will not be the Apple Car, for which at least another five years will be needed, but a viewer for augmented reality, with which Apple will offer its interpretation of the metaverse. A new Apple product for augmented (or virtual) reality has been discussed for some time: now the hypothesis is that 2022 could already be the good year for the debut. The sector feels the same climate of anticipation that preceded the launch of the iPhone, the unveiling of the Apple Watch and more recently the move to Arm processors on Macs.
In the next 5 years
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Visor in sight
Clarifying the many rumors is not easy: many analysts seem to agree that the first product to arrive on the market will not be glasses for augmented reality (planned for 2023 or 2024), but a viewer for the so-called mixed reality, a cross between virtual reality (in Oculus style, to be clear) and augmented reality. The basic idea, in opposition to Meta’s proposal, is not to completely isolate the user, immersing him in a completely virtual way.
Among the indicators that seem to point to the imminence of the launch of the new product there is also the level of maturity reached by Apple’s proprietary chips: thanks to an unbeatable ratio between performance and energy consumption, as demonstrated on the Mac M1s, the Cupertino processors are the secret weapon with which the company could outperform the competition in the field of viewers for the Ar / Vr.
Also in this case we grope among the most disparate indiscretions, but the consensus is that on the next Apple viewer there will even be a chip more powerful than what is available on M1 Macs today. It will serve to ensure realistic graphics and to manage the plethora of cameras and sensors that will allow the integration of virtual reality with the surrounding environment. All without compromising size, weight, battery life and connectivity options.
The ecosystem advantage
Apple’s other big advantage over its competitors is Apple’s huge developer community for platforms. The new Apple wearable will be perfectly integrated with the rest of the ecosystem, and the company will provide tools for programming the apps that developers will immediately begin to put to use, populating the new section of the App Store that will be inaugurated with the arrival of the product.
Precisely this advantage, however, suggests that the positioning of the new product could be similar more to that of the Apple Watch than that of the iPhone. A new category, but in any case closely linked to the mobile device par excellence, of which the viewer will represent a further extension. This perspective clashes in part with the rumors about the implementation of ultra-powerful chips on the viewer, but it makes sense when you consider the possibilities of broadband connection between devices that will be made possible by the WiFi 6e, enhanced standard of WiFi 6 rumored to arrive on the iPhone 14.
On closer inspection, the two hypotheses (that of an ultra-powerful device and that of an accessory for the iPhone) are not mutually exclusive: Apple could offer the new product in a basic version and a Pro version (or Max). Or, as always happened in the case of new products never launched before, the company could refrain from giving the maximum on the first commercial version of the device, reserving updates and enhancements for subsequent updates.
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The competition: Microsoft and Meta
The big unsolved question concerns the future interoperability between the Apple metaverse and the one developed by competitors Meta and Microsoft. It is not difficult to imagine that an extension of the Apple ecosystem to include a new headset will be closed, safe and supervised as it already happens on iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and TV. In that case, however, Apple will have to give up a fundamental element of the metaverse: the ability to move and transfer digital properties and personalities between worlds controlled by different companies and on different devices.
“Both Meta and Microsoft are well positioned to launch this new reality, gain an initial competitive advantage and increase their already huge network effect – he explained. Marta Pinto, senior research Manager of Idc – There is a concrete possibility that the two companies will join forces to collaborate and define the common standards of this new reality, address future demand for new products and assist the legislator in determining the appropriate legal structure to support the new sector “.
Apple has not yet discovered cards in any way, limiting itself to integrating augmented reality solutions into its devices, while Meta and Micorosoft have already been publicly active for years in the field of virtual, augmented and mixed reality (defined in jargon as Xr) with products such as Oculus and Hololens: “If you look at Facebook’s acquisition activities since 2016, when the company incorporated Oculus Vr, you realize that the metaverse has been part of the strategy for a long time – is Pinto’s reflection – Over the years, Meta has gained expertise in Xr, gaming and video, which will now jointly contribute to the metaverse experience. Microsoft, in parallel, its space has been built, albeit in a slightly different segment “.
So what will Apple’s positioning be? It is difficult to say, because if there has been research in this direction over the last few years (and we do not doubt that it is), it has in the closed laboratories of Cupertino, far from curious eyes of analysts or technology enthusiasts. And the possibility that Apple’s metaverse does not communicate with the analogs of Meta and Microsoft could be a strategic advantage for the company. Everything will be decided on the basis of the popularity of each platform, and it is not difficult to imagine that, thanks to the installed base of iPhones and iPads, any new product or accessory will meet the favor of customers and developers. At that point Microsoft and Meta, net of their agreements and their strategies, they will not be able to do other than bring their services also in what we could define the Melaverso, just as has been the case for years now for iOS.