Apple’s mixed reality headset may drop by June, but will likely flop — here’s why

Screencap of Craig Federighi from WWDC 2022 overlayed with Apple mixed reality headset concept by Antonia De Rosa
(Image credit: Apple/Antonia De Rosa)

Apple's mixed-reality headset has been in the works since 2015, according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, and the head-mounted display has faced delays and setbacks for the past eight years. Now, Tim Cook is reportedly finally putting his foot down and demanding that the mixed-reality headset launch this year, as per Financial Times.

However, the design team behind the avant-garde goggles warned the big wigs that they should be patient and wait for a more refined version of the AR glasses. Cook isn't having it, though. He allegedly wants that headset out by June — yes, this June.

The mixed-reality headset likely isn't ready — will it flop?

According to FT, the design team wants to further delay the highly anticipated mixed-reality headset until it can roll out a more featherweight variant. However, a lighter model isn't technically feasible at the moment. Pundits say it could take a few more years before powerful AR/VR-focused components can fit into sleek goggles.

As mentioned, however, the report indicates Cook has decided to "press ahead with the debut this year," concurring with Apple's Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams' that it's time to ship the headset. Interestingly, FT insinuated that the "all-powerful" design team typically had final say on the headset's direction, adding that going against them would be "unthinkable." But things have changed since the team's leader Jony Ive left in 2019. The design team now reports to Williams.

According to FT, the mixed-reality headset will allow users to watch immersive 3D videos, perform interactive workouts, and utilize a revamped FaceTime with realistic avatars. That's cool, I guess, but I'd argue that it's not "cool" enough to command a startling rumored price tag of $3,000. For comparison, the Meta Quest Pro costs $999.

Apple mixed-reality headset

Apple mixed-reality headset (Image credit: The Information)

However, it's worth noting that even Apple doesn't seem to expect this mixed-reality headset to fly off the shelves. Insiders say that Apple foresees one million in sales in the first year (far fewer than the roughly 10 million first-gen Apple Watch's sold 12 months post-launch). This doesn't necessarily mean that Apple believes the mixed-reality headset will bomb; it's likely just being realistic about the performance of a $3,000 first-gen iDevice. The media chatter about the headset, however, is expected to be explosive, which may aid its long-term impact.

With several Apple insiders hinting that the mixed-reality headset is being rushed to launch, the question is, will it flop? I speculate that the AR/VR headset's feature set may not meet what consumers expect from a $3,000 head-mounted display, making it challenging for the Cupertino-based tech giant to reach its aforementioned sales target.

I could be wrong, but if FT's report is correct, we'll know sooner than later after Apple's long-awaited headset debuts in June. Be sure to check out our Apple AR/VR headset rumor hub for more gossip.

Kimberly Gedeon

Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!