Is Apple Setting the Stage for AR?

Written by Jennifer Clark
Posted April 7, 2021

Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) CEO Tim Cook has given consumers a glimpse into what might be in the future for his company and its products. Apple has been said to have an interest in augmented reality (AR), but so far there have only been rumors as to what extent the company plans to use the technology in its products. Now Cook may have hinted at what might be Apple’s vision for augmented reality technology. 

The company has always been secretive about what it's working on, keeping potential products hidden until they're revealed at its keynote events. In a recent interview with Kara Swisher of The New York Times, Cook said:

When I think about that in different fields, whether it’s health, whether it’s education, whether it’s gaming, whether it’s retail, I’m already seeing AR take off in some of these areas with use of the phone. And I think the promise is even greater in the future. 

Cook wouldn’t confirm reports that the company is working on a mixed reality headset or reveal any plans for its June Worldwide Developers Conference. He did suggest that AR would turn regular conversations into Powerpoint presentations, with “graphs” popping up while you’re talking to better illustrate your point:

Arguably, it could even be better if we were able to augment our discussion with charts or other things to appear. And your audience would also benefit from this, too, I think. 

In order for it to be possible to see charts or other graphics appear while having a conversation with someone, you would think that each person would need to wear some type of technology. Tech giants like Google have tried out AR wearables in the past. If you remember, Google Glass was a type of AR wearable in the form of eyeglasses. But the AR technology was still new, and the trend did not pick up. A few years have passed, and the technology has advanced, with more companies testing ways to incorporate it into the lives of everyday people at somewhat affordable prices. 

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Leaks indicate that a mixed reality headset from Apple would be lightweight — weighing less than the iPhone 12. However, in the interview with NYT, Cook made sure to reiterate that Apple’s AR future is still unknown:

Well, I can’t talk about anything that may or may not be in the pipeline. But in terms of AR, the promise of AR is that you and I are having a great conversation right now. 

If Apple were to sell a wearable AR device to the public, it would be at a hefty price point, which would make it a hard product to push. In order to make consumers feel like they “need” such a device, it would have to incorporate more features than just being able to see graphics in conversation with another person. Consumers will also need to be reassured that this technology won’t significantly advance too fast. 

According to Grand View Research, the size of the global augmented reality market was valued at $17.67 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 43.8% from 2021 to 2028. The market growth is obviously there, but if Apple really wants to be a leader in AR, it will need to better understand what's most beneficial for consumers to make it worthy of a purchase. It will need to create a groundbreaking product that will stick — like when it first introduced the iPhone. 

Augmented reality will pave the way for some incredible innovations in the next decade, and as one of the biggest technology companies, Apple should be having conversations about AR so the company can lay the groundwork for an AR future.

Until next time, 

Jennifer Clark
Pro Trader Today
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