Will Apple Launch Its MR Headset at the WWDC?

The company faces a lot of unanswered questions following a recent tweet from its veteran analyst

Mixed RealityNews Analysis

Published: April 4, 2023

Demond Cureton

Apple’s mixed reality (MR) headset is set to delay again amid its upcoming Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) from 5 to 9 June, a series of tweets has found this week.

The latest announcement from Apple’s veteran market analyst, Ming-Chi Kuo, revealed disappointing details that the Cupertino-based firm could potentially delay the headset’s release.

Reports have revealed that this may block Apple from unveiling the device at the key event.

In a Twitter post, Kuo said,

“Because Apple isn’t very optimistic about the AR/MR headset announcement recreating the astounding ‘iPhone moment’, the mass production schedule for assembly has been pushed back by another 1-2 months to mid-to-late 3Q23.”

He added the delay added “uncertainty” on whether the new MR headset would debut at the WWDC 2023 “as the market widely expects.”

Explaining further, he cited market conditions such as “economic downturn, compromises on some hardware specifications for mass production […], the readiness of the ecosystem and applications,” and others.

He also noted that the device’s high price tag of $3,000 to $4,000, “or even higher,” were some of the main reasons the company held a pessimistic outlook.

Reports added the delayed release would also hit the company’s expected number of units to ship in the year.

Analysis of Apple’s MR Headset Woes

Demond Cureton, Senior Journalist, XR Today, analysing the latest updates on Apple’s embattled MR headset release.

To date, there have been a series of headset delays plaguing the tech giant. Over the last few years, Apple has aimed to enter the XR market with its enterprise-level device but now faces numerous headwinds.

Initially, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported earlier last month that Apple would unveil the product at this year’s WWDC. However, this now looks unlikely amid the fresh cycle of global layoffs across the tech sector.

Following the latest updates from Meta, Disney, Accenture Amazon, Google, and others, Apple could potentially delay the device again due largely to adverse market conditions.

This comes after big tech firms have ceremoniously abandoned their Metaverse ambitions in favour of short-term, artificial intelligence (AI) driven solutions with more immediate profit potential.

Numerous tech innovators have shifted to generative AI platforms such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, leading to Google’s BardAI, Microsoft’s Bing AI, and others. This pivot mirrors similar measures from Meta in 2021 at its Connect event, despite Meta continuing with its Metaverse ambitions in a more conservative approach.

Like Google and Microsoft, who have not developed XR devices for consumer markets, there will be less hardware to integrate into a future metaverse. Both companies have also scaled back their development of metaverse solutions due to budget and revenue restraints.

Apple’s metaverse plans also do not follow more ambitious approaches similar to Meta Platforms in the past. The company could continue developing its augmented reality (AR) developer kit, ARKit, to improve its applications ahead of a potential smart glasses release.

Tim Cook said the company held over 14,000 AR kit apps for its global user base at last year’s WWDC event. At the time, he said: “I could not be more excited about the opportunities in the space.”

Additionally, the firm may need to focus on its xrOS platform, which may need to improve interoperability and functionality prior to launch.

Market Receptivity: All about Timing?

The efforts may also work to create an ideal launch with few surprises to ensure market receptivity. This will prevent a large-scale abandonment of a project the firm has spent years developing, now in a muted market.

Emma Ridderstad, Chief Executive and Co-Founder, Warpin Reality, shared similar thoughts with XR Today regarding the device’s release. Due to Apple’s massive developer community, which surpasses many other tech firms, the company may want to release the device at a more ideal time to avoid launch issues.

She said at the time: “This is something we have to consider when entering the XR market, as all technology takes a while to build supporting business models. Currently, it’s such a great opportunity in the history of humanity, where this could become the next major technological leap.”

She added: “We have the chance to build both the industry as well as a genuine passion for the Metaverse and Web 3.0.”

Mass Layoffs Pending?

However, these statements clash with the company’s reported plans to force staff to reapply for jobs at retail locations or face mass layoffs.

Citing a person familiar with the matter, Business Insider reported a company video conference stating Apple planned to reshuffle its retail stores to cut costs. Workers had until Friday to apply for new roles or face job cuts.

The restructuring would affect its operations in Europe, the United States, and Asia-Pacific. The news comes after Facebook, Amazon, Alphabet, and Microsoft launched multiple waves of layoffs in the thousands over the past few months. This may aim to reduce costs while continuing to back its developer community strategically.

The views in this analysis piece are solely those of the author and do not reflect the XR Today brand, its partners, or affiliates.




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