While Apple is still expected to release its first VR/AR headset next year, the bigger step to mainstream adoption — the Google Glass-style AR glasses — may have slipped two years according to one analyst.
In an email to MarketWatch (opens in new tab), Haitong International Tech Research’s Jeff Pu wrote that Apple Glasses could now be up to four years from making their first appearance.
“We now expect the AR Glass to be postponed to 2025-2026, due to design issues,” Pu wrote. This is significant as just five months ago Pu stated that the AR glasses could be announced as soon as 2024.
The term “design difficulties” is, of course, a bit of a catch-all. It could cover anything from making the glasses aesthetically pleasing and light enough for extended wear, to ensuring they have enough battery life to be useful and don’t overheat.
But it’s striking that nearly a decade after Google Glass became available to ‘Explorers’ in the US, companies are still struggling to make the form factor work, despite the considerable technological improvements we’ve seen in the intervening years.
Despite this possible setback, make no mistake: embracing Augmented Reality remains a top priority for Apple.
It’s also a personal enthusiasm for CEO Tim Cook, who talks up the medium at every opportunity. It is, according to him, both a “critically important part of Apple’s future (opens in new tab)” and “the next big thing” that will “pervade our entire lives” (opens in new tab).
The medium is something that the company reportedly sees as replacing the iPhone in a decade. That’s quite an ambition considering there are over a billion active iPhones in the world, not to mention the mix of apathy and downright hostility which met Google Glass when it first emerged.
But if any company can mainstream a weird-looking product, it’s Apple. Let’s not forget that AirPods’ quirky design was originally met with mockery (opens in new tab). Now they’re pretty much everywhere and a healthy revenue raiser for the company.
The first step on this path, and an early test to Apple’s marketing power in this space, will be the AR/VR headset, which is expected early next year. Although it’s expected to be a very different product to AR glasses that can comfortably be worn everywhere, some of the augmented reality ideas will likely be shared between the two devices.
While the iPhone has AR elements already, it will be fascinating to see how the world reacts to a product where AR is the main attraction, rather than a sideshow.