Is an Apple VR headset coming?

Apple’s hardware chief is taking on a new project. Could it be the long-awaited AR/VR headset?

January 27, 2021

Since its founding in 1976, Apple has set out to make computing more personal. In recent years, the move from iPhone to Watch to AirPods has fulfilled this vision.

For many, the next logical step was augmented reality (AR) glasses… like the Google Glass but way less sucky.

According to a recent Bloomberg report, Apple plans on releasing a virtual reality (VR) headset as a bridge to AR.

The product is not aimed at the mass market

Apple Insiders believe the product will cost much more than the $300-$900 price tag of commercial VR headsets (e.g., Facebook, Pico, Sony).

Meant to leverage the company’s most advanced chips and display tech, Apple’s VR headset could run as high as a ~$6k Mac Pro desktop.

Upon a projected 2023 launch, Bloomberg writes that Apple might only move ~180k units a year — a far cry from Apple’s typical product volumes that run in the tens of millions.

To reduce weight, Apple plans to use a fabric exterior…

… which is slightly different than the slick metal you’re probably holding in your hand while reading this.

With a VR headset on the market, the Cupertino spaceship can perfect the tech, bring developers on board, and create a content pipeline.

Apple’s acquisition of NextVR — a startup that records concerts and sporting events for VR — was one tangible breadcrumb…

… and another breadcrumb dropped on Monday

Apple announced that its hardware chief, Dan Riccio, will be transitioning roles and taking over an unspecified project.

Per MacRumors, there are at least 3 possibilities for this mysterious-sounding venture:

  • VR/AR: Obviously.
  • Car: Apple’s self-driving car project has been picking up steam, but it’s already under the leadership of the company’s AI chief, John Giannandrea.
  • Title downgrade: Riccio’s new title (VP of engineering) is a downgrade, so the 23-year vet may just be taking a “step back.”

Whatever Riccio ends up doing, we already know Apple’s AR/VR product will be huge and how the product cycle will play out:

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