Apple’s first AR/VR headset is expected to go official later this year, but unlike Meta, Apple is reportedly not inclined towards building its own metaverse. For the unaware, the metaverse is touted to be the next iteration of the internet, fueled by augmented reality and virtual reality experiences. A digital world where people can have their virtual avatar engage in everything from attending meetings and concerts to shopping for digital items and playing games.
Facebook, now going by the name Meta, has been quite bullish about becoming a Metaverse-first company, and that’s also the reason why it changed the parent company’s name. Meta already has an entry point into the metaverse with the Oculus VR hardware and products like Horizons Workrooms. However, experts are not too psyched about Facebook taking an early lead in the metaverse, with all its social media problems still unsolved.
Industry watchers were anticipating that Apple’s entry in the metaverse discussion might shake things up, but that doesn’t appear to be happening any time soon. In the latest edition of the PowerOn newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman notes that Apple doesn’t have any immediate plans of making its own metaverse. Even though Apple’s AR/VR headset is an ambitious project that will debut some impressive technology from a hardware standpoint, the company is not working on building its very own complementary virtual world. There’s a very practical reason behind it as well. Apple doesn’t think of its AR/VR headset as something that people will wear all day, which means they will only be joining the virtual world for short intervals.
“I’ve been told pretty directly that the idea of a completely virtual world where users can escape to – like they can in Meta Platforms/Facebook’s vision of the future – is off limits from Apple,” Gurman wrote. Another reason that Apple is holding off from building its own expansive metaverse is that the company is more focused on its AR headset that people can wear all day, unlike a bulky VR headset. However, it still sounds quite out of character for a company like Apple to make hardware without creating a whole software ecosystem around it. Under the leadership of Tim Cook, Apple’s software and services have grown into their own massive businesses raking in billions of dollars each year. As per a report from The Wall Street Journal, investors are still betting on Apple building a metaverse as yet another medium to diversify its revenue influx. A research note from Morgan Stanley shared by Bloomberg mentions that the metaverse will only gain mass-market adoption when Apple enters the game.
There’s isn’t a clear view yet of what the metaverse is going to be and, even in its nascent stage, problems like sexual harassment have already been documented. To add, monitoring AR and VR interactions in real-time isn’t going to be an easy task. Unless the technology matures, Apple will be in a safer position if it sits out. Of course, that would mean missing out on an early lead, but that won’t be much of a problem for a company with an established ecosystem of hardware and software, alongside a vast community of developers eager to make metaverse-ready products at the first green signal from Apple.
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Sources: Bloomberg, WSJ