Apple could step into the augmented reality wearable market by releasing an AR headset in 2021, according to noted analyst Gene Munster of Loup Ventures.
On Thursday, Munster published a report concerning Apple’s new product categories, covering his evaluation of the current technology environment as well as public views of wearables for a broad timeline for Apple’s smartglasses product.
“We are pushing back our expected release of Apple Glasses from September of 2020 to December of 2021 based on recent meetings with several AR industry experts.” wrote Munster. “While these people do not have direct knowledge of Apple’s plans, it is becoming clear that, as a category, AR glasses are a few years away.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook has already laid the foundation needed for augmented reality to be a significant business within Apple, Munster writes, underscoring the release of ARKit (Apple’s framework for augmented reality apps and games), the use of dedicated AR optics in the iPhone X, and the purchase of SensoMotoric, a wearable computer vision technology company, as examples of AR’s progression.
Munster recognizes investors’ mixed feelings about AR’s potential “given the two most popular AR use cases today are Snapchat and Pokemon.” The failure of Google Glass also add to the worry, as well as society’s resentment for normal people to be equipped with cameras and record almost everything they see.
“This begs the question: are we ready for AR glasses? Not now, but eventually we will be. AR is better hands-free. We’re not made to experience the world holding up a tiny window,” said Munster. “Our arms and eyes get tired. Glasses solve that problem, but they also create a problem by breaking a social dynamic around privacy.”
While Munster believes the public isn’t ready for AR glasses, he is optimistic that it will become a more well liked concept, because, “We’re not made to experience the world holding up a tiny window.” Adoption of such wearable devices will be minimum “until the utility of an AR wearable offsets the negative social dynamic.”
Loup Ventures previously predicted a release of “Apple Glasses” around September 2020, but pushed the date back to December 2021 after meeting several AR experts. “While these people do not have direct knowledge of Apple’s plans, it is becoming clear that, as a category, AR glasses are a few years away.”
Experts estimate around 10 million units of the AR glasses could be sold in the first year of release, with Munster implying this could be comparable to the initial performance of Apple Watch. With an anticipated average selling price of $1,300, the famed headwear could yield $13 billion in the first year, accounting for 3% of Apple’s entire year’s revenue in 2022.