Depending on who you ask, the the number of mixed reality headsets that Apple will sell this year varies considerably.
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Analysts at TD Cowen estimate Apple could sell as many 1 million of the headsets in the first year. Wedbush analyst Dan Ives reckons that Apple will sell 150,000 of the devices.
One thing the estimates have in common though is that they are all well below similar products already on the market. Take Meta’s second-generation Quest virtual reality headset model for instance, which shipped 10 million units in the year after its release.
That may seem shocking for Apple, the company that ushered in the smartphone revolution with the iPhone. Isn’t Apple the company that’s supposed to make headsets a must-have product?
When it comes to mixed reality and headsets, even Apple bulls are being cautious. But they're cautiously optimistic.
Apple is due to plant its flag in the first new product category in years when it unveils a standalone headset at Monday’s Worldwide Developers Conference. The headset, likely named “Reality Pro,” will be able to handle virtual reality and augmented reality, and based on reports from Bloomberg and The Information, will feature a slew of slick innovations.
It won’t be cheap though, with a price estimated somewhere between $2,500 to $3,000. At the high end, that's about $2,400 more than a Meta Quest 2 headset costs now. The high price is one reason why analysts have modest expectations for the Apple headset out of the gate “We believe the AR/XR headset opportunity is still in its early growth phases,” said TD Cowen in its report, predicting a cheaper model in 2024.
Longtime Apple analyst Gene Munster, at Deepwater Asset Management, speculates that the price of the Apple headset could come down to $700 by 2027. That could open the floodgates to Apple selling as many as 75 million units by 2030, the headset’s eighth year on the market. That translates to $53 billion in annual revenue, which Munster estimates could represent 10% of Apple’s total sales in 2030.
Not bad, but not the iPhone, which accounted for more than 50% of Apple’s revenue in its eighth year.
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Apple’s advantage is the estimated army of 34 million iOS developers, according to TD Cowen reports. If it can use the content available on the App Store and in the native software ecosystem, the headset can start off with a strong base and build from there. Apple has been preparing its developer community for this moment since 2017 with the introduction of augmented reality developer tools. The combination means allows Apple to give headset users a smooth-screened environment of “gaming, streaming video, conferencing capabilities, health or fitness apps, and with a range of capabilities that Apple will integrate with its other devices,” says a Wedbush report.
And new A.I. innovations—which some industry observers believe Apple will also unveil at WWDC—could expand the range of possibilities for what a headset does even further.
It’s a “flex the muscles moment for Cook and Cupertino,” said Daniel Ives, a managing director at Wedbush, describing the headset as a "potential game-changer" in hardware, VR and A.I.
“It will ultimately lead to a broader AI strategy that Cook will lay out next week," Ives said.
This story was originally featured on Fortune.com
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