There’s a lot of questions about what will be the next hit product from Apple. For quite some time, an Apple self-driving car was rumored, a TV before that, and pretty much any kind of device short of a fridge or a microwave oven. The ongoing question now is: will we have the Apple Glasses announced at the next Apple developers’ event in June? Here’s my train of thought and prediction…
First, Apple is never a first-entrant. If there is no content or products already widespread in the core market, they won’t move in. They move in after the 1st entrants have struggled, created a market, and they pick up the pieces with a killer product solving a huge pain point.
In terms of VR/AR, it’s a tad confusing. There is a tiny gaming market, and that’s it. Nothing in education, movies, or TV really (the dream or VR was born in the 90s and never delivered). Apple’s own AR/VR platform (the iPhone) has been more than ready for years, and no one really cares.
What are the options then?
(A) They might decide to push in #AR even more by bringing more hardware and hope the party will start. They might want to differentiate the Apple TV a bit more. But I don’t see that coming. Again not enough market.
(B) They could try to resuscitate Siri and Maps which both suck, connect Apple Music which is half-decent, and boost Fitness+ still in the embryo stage. This would make more sense and follow-up on their Apple One bundle offer. Then it would be just AR and probably no VR yet. But even that doesn’t seem very likely. In the context of a market barely starting to see the end of the Covi-19 tunnel, it would be quite reckless to announce major new hardware such as Apple Glasses.
Then there is the case for (C) an extended Car OS. If there’s one market growing right now for AR, it’s car heads-up displays that are becoming the new normal (by the way, where is Tesla on this?). This would also be a simple way to salvage some of their investment in the long-rumored Apple Car (aka Project Titan). Not to mention that AR displays would be built by the automakers and not by Apple. Pure software, no Apple Glasses.
Remember too, that the WWDC is fundamentally about developers. Apple might announce software tools, not hardware yet. Extending the current software development kits would be an interesting previous of things to come, and they wouldn’t have to bet big on immature hardware at this point.
And in any case, it’s doubtful that VR glasses would be on the map. Apple being Apple, I don’t see them having glasses tethered to a mac with a cable. And light-weight goggles embarking enough computing/battery power to do proper VR are at best 5 years out. Not convinced? Ask Magic Leap what they think.
No reason to believe too, that Apple would even touch with a stick defence contracts.
In the end, my ‘smart’ take would be that Apple will announce AR SDK for CarPlay and no Apple glasses. That would be a gangster move to push Google OS out of the premium and luxury car market and convince incumbent automakers to stop trying to develop their own software layer.
At this point, automakers are getting pretty good at the UX, but they will never be a platform. And the software business at this scale is all about being one of the top 3 platforms on the planet (which Baidu understands very well).
So what about the big Memoji pictures wearing glasses for the event? In my opinion, just a friendly troll, no Apple Glasses for now.
Why do I write about this?
Even if you’re not interested in Apple Glasses, this is a fantastic case of bottleneck analysis. For years, AR and VR have been the next great thing in technology… that ends up never happening. And now that the automotive industry has a tangential interest in it, they might happen to be an option to open up the bottleneck for this technology and propel it at scale for future development.