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Three thousand dollars. Not three hundred dollars. Not even one thousand dollars. Three thousand dollars. That’s a hefty sum to invest in something that may give you a headache, make you queasy, and leave you looking like a dork.
It’s no secret that Apple is set to unveil its long-awaited AR/VR headset at WWDC. The rumored price tag? A staggering $3,000. In comparison, Meta’s upcoming Quest 3 is expected to cost less than $500.
What Sets Apple Apart?
Five hundred dollars versus three thousand dollars. If Apple wants to justify such a high price, it needs to offer more than just a fancy design. Let’s examine the key factors that make or break AR/VR headsets:
Apple has never been known for its affordability. Instead, the company focuses on providing a premium user experience through ecosystem integration, quality, and exclusivity. With an expected $3,000 launch price, Apple isn’t playing the price game.
Most AR/VR goggles resemble scuba diving gear more than stylish eyewear. If Apple can create a headset that looks more like glasses than a clunky object on your forehead, it stands a better chance of success.
Comfort and Weight
Headset goggles are notorious for being heavy and causing discomfort after prolonged use. Apple needs to strike the right balance between comfort and stability.
Adjusting AR/VR devices to accommodate varying pupillary distances and prescription needs is crucial. How much eye strain will these headsets cause?
Connectivity and Run Time
What powers the headset? Will it connect to a computer or have its own processor? Rumor has it that the Apple device will feature an M3 Apple Silicon processor, potentially using a belt pack for power. Battery life is also a significant consideration.
If Apple can excel in all these areas while justifying the steep price, it might overcome the objections and win over consumers. However, rumors still refer to the upcoming device as a headset, not glasses. So while Apple may make it more tolerable, it’s unlikely to be a game-changer.
Use Cases: Where Does Apple Fit In?
We all know that killer apps can drive demand and justify higher prices. Take my glasses, for example. For vision correction, I paid more than $700 in the past, as it significantly improved my productivity and reduced eye strain.
But does Apple’s headset have a killer app? While there are specific verticals like education, remote support, real estate, and medicine that could benefit from the technology, Apple appeals to a broad market.
Will Apple Crack the Broad Market?
In the midst of a pandemic, a killer app would have been video conferencing. The ability to engage in face-to-face meetings virtually could have made the Apple headset a worthwhile investment. However, as we return to in-person business, the appeal diminishes.
Gaming is another potential use case, but only when the price point and hardware become more accessible. While gaming could be huge for VR, consumers won’t spend three grand on it.
One interesting use case is demonstrated by Sightful, a company that offers a laptop called Spacetop. Instead of a screen, users wear AR glasses that simulate a wide-screen monitor. The glasses are relatively lightweight and comfortable, but the price point remains at $2,000.
Beyond these examples, there doesn’t seem to be a broad-market application for the Apple headset. This leads me to believe that Apple may be launching a development kit for developers and corporate clients targeting specific verticals.
Apple’s Next Move
Apple never settles for mediocrity. If the company is launching a headset, it believes it has something groundbreaking. However, without a killer app or a consumer-friendly price, the mass market may not embrace it.
My hunch is that Apple will use WWDC to showcase the technology of the Reality Pro, as we expect it to be named. It’s an opportunity to recruit developers and explore potential applications. As for myself, I’m not developing iOS apps anymore, so I’ll wait for the final product’s release, pricing, and compatibility with glasses before considering a purchase.
Of course, everything mentioned above is just speculation. Monday will bring the answers. Do you agree with my predictions? Let me know in the comments below.
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