Apple's AR Headset And Smart Glasses Could Be Further Away Than Analysts Thought

Apple Building
There are have been multiple reports and predictions by analysts that Apple will soon launch an augmented reality headset, or perhaps a set of AR glasses. And maybe it will. However, a new report based on supposed inside information states Apple is targeting an AR headset launch in 2022, followed by AR glasses in 2023.

The time frame puts Apple's play in the AR hardware category much further out than previously thought. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, for example, predicted in a recent research note that Apple would roll out its own-branded AR glasses by 2020, followed by the long rumored Apple Car in 2023. But at least one of those might be off target.

According to a paywalled article at The Information, people familiar with the matter said Apple executives discussed the AR hardware timelines during an internal presentation to employees at the company's Cupertino, California, campus in October. As the story goes, Apple vice president Mike Rockwell led the meeting, and is also the one who is leading the Apple's AR and virtual reality (VR) initiatives.

It's said the meeting was large enough to fill the 1,000+ seats at the Steve Jobs Theater. If true, it suggests Apple has a rather large team working on its AR efforts. It also would not be much of a surprise—Apple is in search of the next big thing, and company CEO Tim Cook has gone on record saying AR is going to be "really big."

"I do think that a significant portion of the population of developed countries, and eventually all countries, will have AR experiences every day. It will be almost like eating three meals a day because it will become that much a part of you," Cook said a year ago. "A lot of us live on our smartphones, the iPhone, I hope, is very important for everyone, so AR think will become really big. VR I think is not going to be that big, compared to AR. I’m not saying it’s not important, it is important."

It's also not surprising that Apple might be several years away from a making a splash in AR. The company has shown patience with emerging technologies, to a fault, some would say. Take 5G, for example. Though there are several 5G phones on the market, the latest iPhone is not one of them.

The market for AR is still not clear. We've seen a spattering of noteworthy products, like Microsoft's HoloLens and various mixed reality headsets for Windows. And at the same time, we've also seen Google's efforts pivot from the consumer space and into the enterprise with Google Glass. Perhaps Apple is using those launches to form a blueprint on how to execute its own efforts, hence the potential three-year wait.