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Apple's AR/VR headset might miss expected WWDC launch

Apple is heavily rumored to be working on releasing a mixed reality headset of its own, but its expected WWDC23 launch is now in doubt.

Apple's AR/VR headset might miss expected WWDC launch
1 minute & 45 seconds read time

Apple had been expected to announce its first AR/VR headset during the WWDC event that will take place in June. But a new report now suggests that might not happen after all.

The headset, dubbed Reality Pro by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, has been heavily rumored for months with some suggesting that Apple could unveil it at the Worldwide Developers Conference so as to give developers a chance to take a look at what they'll be building apps for. It was never clear whether the device would go on sale at the same time, or if it would launch months later as Apple previously did with the Apple Watch.

However, a new report by supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo now suggests that might not happen. In a post to Twitter, Kuo said that Apple "isn't very optimistic" about its product, adding that it might instead choose to delay the announcement.

It appears that Kuo's supply chain sources have led him to believe that Apple has delayed mass production of the headset until the end of the third quarter of 2023. That would mean that even if Apple wanted to, it wouldn't be able to put the headset up for sale until toward the end of 2023.

Kuo says that the forecast for the number of headsets that will be produced before the end of the year is now just 200,000 to 300,000 units. That's considerably down on the previous expectations of something around the 500,000 mark or even more.

Apple's concerns seem to revolve around the fact that the headset is set to cost a lot of money, at least $3,000 if the reports are accurate. Kuo says that Apple is concerned that the economic downturn and the specifications of the device itself could cause poor reception.

The Reality Pro is expected to be heavy, for example, while a hip-mounted battery will run for just two hours on a single charge if previous leaks turn out to be accurate. Apple is also said to be worried that the lack of apps and the associated ecosystem could also hinder its adoption.

This follows a similar report by The New York Times that suggested Apple's own employees are less than convinced about the product's chances. Some were said to be worried that the product is a "solution in search of a problem," alluding to the fact that there might not be a need for a $3,000 headset.

That could have been leveled at the iPhone and Apple Watch, of course, with Apple then finding ways to make the products vital to customers.

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Based in the UK, Oliver has been writing about technology, entertainment, and games for more than a decade. If there's something with a battery or a plug, he's interested. After spending too much money building gaming PCs, Oliver switched to Apple and the Mac - and now spends too much on those instead.

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