The Apple CEO is euphoric. A new era is dawning for the iPhone company. “Apple Vision Pro will fundamentally change the way we work and interact,” says Cook. After the introduction of the personal computer and the smartphone, the age of spatial computing is now beginning. An era characterised by a new interaction with the physical and digital environment.
The data glasses look like futuristic ski goggles. They have a very high resolution of 23 million pixels on two displays. This should enable users to watch films in high quality or work on virtual displays. On the outside, the goggles have a front made of laminated glass. It can represent the eyes of the wearer. This should make it possible to continue interacting with people in the environment without having to take off the glasses.
Structure of the data glasses
Behind the glass, there is not only a display, but also several sensors and cameras. They film both the wearer’s face and the surroundings. “The Apple Vision Pro can be controlled entirely by eyes, gestures and voice,” Cook said. “That’s magical.” Other data glasses usually require controllers to provide input.
The glasses are modular. An attachment sits on top of the display that can adjust to the shape of the wearer’s face. A strap is hooked on. The glasses themselves fit so tightly on the head that it is not possible to wear a visual aid underneath. Apple, in cooperation with the German company Zeiss, offers inserts that are adapted to the individual’s visual acuity.
There is a lot at stake for Apple. Tim Cook wants to assert himself as the successor to company founder Steve Jobs in the chief executive position. He finally wants to stand for something of his own. Up to now, he has mainly continued or carried out products that were prepared during the time under Jobs.
The data glasses are something different. It is true that Apple has been researching the technology for more than a decade and has since been building up a patent portfolio that today includes around 5000 patents in the field of data glasses and related technologies. But under Cook, the vague idea became an almost finished product.
Yet the market for data glasses is not doing particularly well at the moment. The Facebook company Meta is currently dominating the conversation. But start-ups that provide content for virtual worlds were only able to collect 664 million dollars in investments in the first five months of this year, according to data from the market researcher Pitchbook. In the same period last year, the figure was $2.93 billion.
Where Apple’s data glasses stand compared to the competition
Apple has an impressive history. The company has decisively shaped several product categories. The iPod became a key mobile device for listening to music from 2001. The iPhone, launched in 2007, continues to shape the smartphone market today. Three years later, the iPad followed with similar success in the tablet segment. The smart watch Apple Watch has been sold since 2015.
“The Watch is clearly better than all the others on the market,” analyst Francisco Jeronimo from market researcher IDC told Handelsblatt. None of the rivals from Meta to Microsoft to HTC could match the quality of the device. “The resolution of the display is outstanding,” the analyst stressed.
“Vision Pro” – Apple enters data glasses business
The glasses are the next level of interaction between man and machine, he said. After input via keyboard, mouse, finger and finally voice input, the leap to a mobile environment with digital glasses now follows. “In the future, we will no longer sit at a table to create digital content,” Jeronimo said.
“What the smartphone did to the landline phone, data glasses will do to desktop computers,” Jeronimo said. Apple is the only company that has succeeded in creating a high-quality experience with data glasses for users, he said. Apple is reaching out to a huge developer community that will produce content, Jeronimo said.
Other industry experts urge caution. “The presentation of content for the glasses has been thin. There is still a lack of good content,” said analyst Tuong Nguyen of market researcher Gartner. Only when the devices go on sale would it be possible to determine whether Apple’s promises regarding the performance and quality of the glasses stand up, Nguyen said.
Sales launch in the USA not until 2024
Tim Cook and his team presented the data glasses in Cupertino on Monday. But they will not go on sale for at least another six months. The first sale is planned for the beginning of 2024, Apple managers said, and then initially only in the USA. Other countries are to follow in the course of the coming year. Apple left open whether Germany will be among them. In the USA, the device will cost around 3500 dollars. There is not even an announced price for Germany and Europe.
Apple could probably make a lot of money with content for the devices, analyst Wamsi Mohan of Bank of America assumed. While applications for iPhones and iPads currently often cost only a few dollars, buyers of the data glasses are likely to be prepared to spend considerably more. Apple’s app store is already considered the company’s most financially lucrative area.
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Apple has never taken so much time between the announcement of a device and the actual sale. Between the first presentation of the iPhone in 2007 and the launch of the devices in retail stores there were five months. Now it will be at least six months – probably much longer.
Analyst Jeronimo reported that Apple is still wrestling with technical problems. He was told by an Apple employee that the hardware would be further optimised during the next months. Nevertheless, Apple decided to launch the device in order to convince developers to provide content for the device now, Jeronimo said.
Meta could benefit from the success of Apple’s data glasses
Nevertheless, Jeronimo is convinced that the Vision Pro has the potential to fundamentally change the market for data glasses. Above all, other manufacturers of premium data glasses such as HTC, Magicleap or Vaio are likely to have great problems holding their own against Apple. Market leader Meta, on the other hand, should be well positioned, Jeronimo suspects. “Their glasses are much cheaper and are aimed at a different clientele.”
In the US, the data glasses are expected to cost around 3500 dollars.
However, he noted a significant drawback: “The glasses are really heavy.” Apple did not specify the weight. Jeronimo suggested that the device could not be worn comfortably for long periods of time.
Despite the high price, Apple is unlikely to make a profit on the data glasses initially, unlike other devices. The company will initially sell the glasses at just above the cost of production, the Bloomberg news agency reported.
However, industry insiders said that work is already underway on a cheaper next version. The price for the slimmed-down device was thought to be 1500 dollars. Apple has not yet given any details. Before a cheaper version is launched, sales of the glasses are likely to be limited. The investment bank Wedbush estimates sales of the Vision Pro at 150,000 units in the first year and one million units in the second year.