There is no questioning the impact that Meta has had on bringing Virtual Reality into the mainstream. In the AR space there has yet to be a mainstream product, though some may argue that Microsoft’s HoloLens has been the AR equivalent, but it hasn’t garnered the mainstream adoption the Quest has.
Apple’s highly anticipated XR headset, rumoured to be called the “Apple Glass,” is set to shake up the extended reality (XR) market. While details about the headset are still scarce, it is believed to be a fashionable, lightweight device that can be worn throughout the day and seamlessly switch between augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology.
Firstly, let’s deal with the elephant in the room. Apple Glass? Seriously? I doubt that is what the product will be called, for one obvious reason – Google Glass. I’m not sure how many of you remember the term “glassholes” but that was the general term for those tech bro’s that cracked the nod from Google and got ‘by invite only’ access to the Google Glass when it first came out (and no, I wasn’t on that list…and yes, I admit I was salty about it).
And oh boy did they love you to know that they were special, walking around with their google glass on that had no real practical use, but made them look like the love child of Johnny Bravo and Peewee Herman. Hence…glassholes. I would hope that Apple finds a more original name for their product that doesn’t elicit the same stigma. Apple acolytes are already annoying enough, we don’t need to make it worse. I say this as one of the converted.
So why do we think Apple will shake up the industry. A few reasons…
It’s a well-known fact that when Apple brings new hardware to market, they almost always tend to make waves. Apple’s approach to product development is deeply considered and their user experience on their hardware devices is world class. You only need to look at how they have disrupted and dominated industries from music to watches to see this. When their XR headset comes out you just know it’s going to be elegant and well designed. It would be a huge mistake to under-estimate the impact they will have. Yes, that comes with a price tag, so let’s talk about that next.
The rumours are that Apple Glass will sell for around $3,000. Compared to Oculus Quest 2 at $399, you may think this is Apple pricing themselves out of the market. Even the latest offerings from Oculus, Magic Leap and Lenovo, aimed at the business community, are looking at around $1,500. The outlier is Microsoft’s Hololens 2 at a whopping $3,500. But all of this is irrelevant for one key reason. Apple has built quality into their brand.
There is a reason Apple can charge what they do for their products, and we are more than happy to pay the price. Its more than just a status symbol, the genius of Apple has always been their ability to create an aspirational feeling around their products that make us justify the price. We walk away feeling good that we have just spent $3,000 on a Macbook Pro when we could have spent half of that on a decent laptop from a reliable brand like Lenovo, Dell or HP. And for this reason, the Apple headset price will not be the barrier to adoption that many people might believe it to be.
The only competitors who come close are Google and Microsoft, but neither are quite as pervasive as Apple. From MacOS to iOS to tvOS. To services like Apple Arcade to AppleTV+ and AppleFitness+. And possibly in future to HomeKit and other services, even Apple CarPlay when self-driving actually becomes a thing. I can’t think of many other brands who could offer such a complete experience. Brands like Oculus and Sony are limited in where their headsets can go, but with Apple there is boundless opportunity and it’s going to be interesting to see how they start to expand out their integration into their other services. I can already see huge opportunities in most of these areas.
The Apple Glass can also be used in a variety of fields, such as education, healthcare, and retail. For example, doctors could use the headset to view X-rays or MRIs while performing surgery, while teachers could use it to bring virtual field trips to their classrooms. Retailers could use the headset to provide customers with an immersive shopping experience, allowing them to virtually try on clothes or test out products before making a purchase.
At Sozo, we see the opportunities to enhance learning and development to easily switch between immersive training in VR and contextual real time training in AR. This can elevate the impressive work that has already been done so far. VR has established itself as a real tool in education and this will only get better once we can seamlessly move between VR and AR, which each have their place in the learning journey.
For any Oculus developers out there, you will know first-hand how terrible of an experience it is being a developer for the Oculus store. App submissions can take 2 to 3 months to process on the Oculus store. Their customer experience is abysmal and has only become worse with the recent downsizing at Meta. Compare that to Apple, that has been running their app store since 2008.
They have had over a decade to perfect their process. They can be tough when reviewing apps and sometimes we wish they could be more like Android, but you begrudgingly have to appreciate the level of quality and care they take when reviewing apps. This experience means that when they launch their XR app store, not only will XR developers flock to it, but many will see it as a welcome alternative to the Oculus store.
With all these opportunities going for it, the release of Apple Glass will be a defining moment in the XR industry. What Meta has done has been nothing short of incredible, but they need competitors, and who better to validate an industry, that has been subject to huge speculation and buzzword bullshit, than Apple.