Apple is expected to launch its first mixed-reality headset in the next few months, but a report by the New York Times on Sunday suggests that some at the company have doubts about its potential for success.
Citing eight current and former Apple employees, the Times said that for some at the company, “enthusiasm has given way to skepticism” regarding the AR/VR headset, which is likely to be unveiled at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June.
Concerns include the reported eye-popping price tag of around $3,000, as well as doubts about the usefulness of the device in a largely unproven market.
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According to the Times, some company insiders have been wondering if the upcoming headset is “a solution in search of a problem.” Sources told the media outlet that “unlike the iPod, which put digital songs in people’s pockets, and the iPhone, which combined the abilities of a music player and a phone, the headset hasn’t been driven by the same clarity.”
Three people with knowledge of the matter claimed that some employees walked away from Apple’s headset project because they had concerns about its ability to succeed, while others have apparently been fired after failing to make significant headway with certain features linked to the device.
The project has reportedly also been impacted to some extent by changes at the top of Apple’s design team, with Jony Ive, once the company’s chief design officer and the person responsible for some its most iconic products, departing Apple in 2019, while Ive’s successor, Evans Hankey, left the company earlier this year.
The Times’ revelation comes as Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported on a recent top-secret event at Apple’s California headquarters where the new headset was shown off to the so-called “Top 100,” a group comprising Apple’s most senior executives.
Like the Times, Gurman also noted how Apple’s foray into high-tech headsets presents a greater risk for Apple compared to the launches of its existing products. “With the Mac, iPod, iPhone, Apple Watch, and iPad, the company was essentially creating a better version of a product that people were familiar with,” Gurman wrote. “With the headset, Apple will have to explain to consumers why they’d want to own such a product at all.”
Apple’s mixed-reality headset will go up against Meta’s $1,000 Quest Pro, which recently received a $500 price cut in a bid to boost sales.
All eyes are now on the expected big reveal at WWDC, and how Apple will market the headset in a bid to replicate the kind of success that it’s had with the majority of its other offerings.