During the upcoming WWDC developer conference, Apple is expected to finally unveil its long-awaited augmented or mixed reality Reality Pro headset. This announcement has been anticipated for years and has encountered various challenges, including delays, technical obstacles, and internal debates. The overall perception of AR and VR has shifted from initial optimism to skepticism, partly due to the limitations and complexities involved in creating immersive mixed reality experiences.
One significant factor in the AR and VR landscape is Meta (formerly Facebook). Meta has been heavily invested in VR for the past few years, releasing products like Meta Quest 3 and Meta Quest Pro. However, while they attracted some casual users, it hasn't been enough to establish a sustainable business on the scale of Facebook or the iPhone. Other players in the industry, such as HTC, Sony, and Steam, have also made attempts, but none have gained substantial traction or widespread adoption.
Enter Apple. Known for refining existing technologies rather than inventing them, Apple has a track record of transforming industries with products like the iPod and iPhone. However, AR and VR headsets present unique challenges. Accessibility is a major concern, with a significant portion of the population experiencing discomfort or even nausea when using such devices. Additionally, many people simply dislike wearing something on their face, making it difficult to overcome these inherent objections.
While Apple has surprised skeptics in the past, the AR and VR landscape poses different challenges. The company's reputation and past successes may not necessarily guarantee a successful entry into this space. Unlike previous Apple launches, where the question was often about when and how a product would succeed, the big question surrounding AR and VR is "why" – why would consumers embrace it, and what can Apple bring to the table that others haven't already tried?
The anticipation surrounding Apple's AR and VR headset launch is distinct from previous product releases. It raises questions about the purpose and viability of such technology in today's market, and Apple will need to provide compelling answers to convince consumers that AR and VR can deliver meaningful experiences on a mass-market scale.