Apple to Challenge Meta with Mixed-Reality Headset

Apple and Meta Battle for Dominance in the Metaverse

"A woman walks past the Apple store at Grand Central Terminal in New York City, with the iconic Apple logo shining brightly, while using her iPhone mobile device."

Apple Inc is set to make a highly anticipated announcement at its annual software developer conference next week, revealing a cutting-edge headset that seamlessly merges the virtual and real world through a captivating video experience.

Apple CEO Tim Cook and Meta Platforms Inc’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, are in a race to shape the future of technology, where the realms of reality and digital convergence. Zuckerberg has been vocal about his vision of the “metaverse,” an alternate digital universe where people connect for work and leisure, with products already in circulation.

In contrast, Apple’s marketing chief, Greg Joswiak, recently dismissed the term “metaverse,” emphasizing that it’s not a phrase they endorse. While Apple’s mixed-reality device remains shrouded in secrecy, rumors are rife. Apple’s highly anticipated presentations at the Worldwide Developers Conference commence on Monday at 10 am PDT (1700 GMT) in California.

Until now, Apple’s ventures into augmented reality focused on enhancing existing devices, such as enabling retailers’ apps to showcase virtual furniture in customers’ homes.

“Meta and Apple are engaged in a head-to-head competition. The distinction lies in Meta’s public approach versus Apple’s more discreet strategy,” noted Anshel Sag, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.

Industry analysts view Apple’s upcoming device, speculated by Bloomberg to cost around $3,000 and resemble ski goggles, as a stepping stone. The Cupertino-based company’s ultimate vision is believed to be the creation of transparent glasses that overlay digital information onto the physical world, wearable throughout the day. However, faced with fierce competition, Apple opted to release its own mixed-reality headset.

Apple declined to comment on its future plans and products.

While the technology for Apple’s glasses is still years away, rivals like Sony Group Corp and Pico (owned by TikTok parent company ByteDance) have already launched mixed-reality headsets, offering a glimpse into the possibilities of blending real and virtual worlds. Meta Platforms recently unveiled its Quest 3 headset priced at $500, following last year’s release of the $1,000 Quest Pro.

"Interior view of Apple's stunning new headquarters."

Since 2017, Apple has been actively incorporating augmented-reality features into its iPhones and iPads. However, its practical applications have largely been limited to furniture shopping apps and a small selection of games.

Analysts suggest that Apple’s secrecy surrounding its endeavors stems from the uncertainty in Silicon Valley regarding the ultimate use cases for mixed- or augmented-reality technology, often referred to as “XR.” The absence of a standout “killer app” for the device further compounds this challenge.

Rather than targeting a mass-market price point, Apple seems to be preparing a premium offering aimed at showcasing the possibilities to software developers, who can then create compelling applications.

“No one there believes this market is anywhere near ripe in the foreseeable future,” stated Ben Bajarin, chief executive and principal analyst at Creative Strategies.

Apple’s biggest risk lies in staking its reputation for producing polished products while entering a costly competition with Meta for dominance in a nascent market. According to research firm IDC, Meta held an 80% share of the augmented- and virtual-reality headset market, which totaled just 8.8 million units last year. In contrast, IDC estimates that Apple alone sold 226 million iPhones.

While Meta already has products on the market, Apple enjoys a significant advantage in defining the emerging field among software developers. Jitesh Ubrani, a research manager tracking the XR market at IDC, highlighted Apple’s strong relationships with developers who seek to tap into its vast ecosystem of 2 billion devices, including Macs, Apple Watches, and iPhones.

“They can leverage that ecosystem they’ve already built to keep users within their

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