Apple has reached the prototyping phase with its virtual reality (VR) headset and could release it as soon as 2022, Bloomberg reported. The firm’s device, code-named “N301,” will be “far more expensive” than most consumer VR gear and will not have mass appeal.
The iPhone manufacturer intends for the product to serve as a precursor to a more mainstream augmented reality (AR) offering.
Apple’s Unnamed VR Headset
Based on Bloomberg’s article, Apple has shifted priorities with its VR headgear since its existence came to light in late 2019.
For one thing, N301 is primarily designed to put wearers into immersive 3D environments. Its main functions will be gaming, communication, and media streaming. It will have some AR features, but it is positioned as an Oculus-style, at-home entertainment offering. The standalone battery-powered gadget will also include a fan to keep it from overheating.
Surprisingly, the corporation is not aiming to make N301 an iPhone sized hit. Instead, it views the item as a premium product that will move around 180,000 units per year. The firm is looking to sell its headgear at a four-figure price point akin to a $6,000 Mac Pro computer. That said, the Big Tech giant intends to equip its VR setup with some impressive-sounding hardware.
Apple is testing a VR headset with chips that outpace its M1 processors in terms of power. Its displays also offer greater resolution than any digital eyewear currently on the market. The device also houses a mechanism that can be loaded with prescription lenses so that users can wear it without their glasses.
The company has also developed an operating system dubbed “rOS” for the device and a virtual keyboard interface. As previously revealed, the N301 will feature a fabric exterior, come with embedded external cameras, and is comparable in size to an Oculus product.
The company’s AR glasses, code-named “N421,” are still at the conceptual stage, and its tentative 2023 release window is uncertain.
Will Apple VR Headgear Succeed or Flop?
Typically, Apple’s products do very well, and some have brought massive changes to established industries. On the other hand, when the company misses, it misses big, like with the first version of its Maps app or the PowerBook 5000. Judging by the information that has come out about N301, the product will be a moderate success.
If the corporation launches a $2,000-$3,000 high-end VR headset next November, it will receive a lot of media coverage and sell relatively well. The firm purchased a virtual reality content company for a rumored $100 million last April. That means it could launch the product alongside an ecosystem that hosts live 3D sporting events, mesmerizing games, and next-generation FaceTime functionality.
Because of its unparalleled brand strength and resources, Apple could finally make VR mainstream, or at least much more popular.
But the N301’s design details make it sound unusually cumbersome and unengaging. It is hard to imagine any digital visual experience that would not be seriously undercut by uncomfortably close fan noise. Plus, the device’s potential price point puts it firmly in the category of fun but expensive enthusiast gadgets.
All that is to say, Apple VR looks like an enjoyable appetizer. But the main course is the AR eyewear that could supplant the iPhone as the next big thing in consumer electronics.