Apple’s mixed-reality headset sparks some rebellion inside the company

Apple is prepping the release of its new mixed-reality headset, rumored to cost $3,000, and it is already proving controversial, sparking some rebellion inside the company.

Apple VR/AR headset concept by Antonio DeRosa
Apple VR/AR headset concept by Antonio DeRosa

Andrew Griffin for Yahoo Finance:

The headset is due to be unveiled to the public in June, according to a number of reports. Apple is hoping that it will be another product line to add to the iPhone and the Mac, and serve as a major new technology platform.

But the project has already sparked some rebellion from inside the company. Various staff within Apple have argued that the headset is not ready, and that launching the version of the product that can ship now is too risky, according to multiple reports…

The headset is facing a number of challenges. It is expected to cost around $3,000, does not have an obvious use, will rely on a battery and is likely to have limited support at its launch.

Some inside the company have argued that Apple would be better to wait until some of the design challenges have been solved, including a bulky design and an external battery that will need regular recharging.

But Apple is seemingly pushing ahead for a launch this year…

Tripp Mickle and Brian X. Chen for The New York Times:

[A]s the company prepares to introduce the headset in June, enthusiasm at Apple has given way to skepticism, said eight current and former employees, who requested anonymity because of Apple’s policies against speaking about future products. There are concerns about the device’s roughly $3,000 price, doubts about its utility and worries about its unproven market.

That dissension has been a surprising change inside a company where employees have built devices — from the iPod to the Apple Watch — with the single-mindedness of a moon mission.

Some employees have defected from the project because of their doubts about its potential, three people with knowledge of the moves said. Others have been fired over the lack of progress with some aspects of the headset, including its use of Apple’s Siri voice assistant, one person said.

Even leaders at Apple have questioned the product’s prospects. It has been developed at a time when morale has been strained by a wave of departures from the company’s design team…

The headset looks like ski goggles. It features a carbon fiber frame, a hip pack with battery support, outward cameras to capture the real world and two 4K displays that can render everything from applications to movies, two of the people said. Users can turn a “reality dial” on the device to increase or decrease real-time video from the world around them.

MacDailyNews Take: The glaring lack of a visionary who is immersed and invested in product design who is a single point of approval – Steve Jobs – means that early adopters have to take Jobs’ place en masse to perform similar functions – albeit over a significantly longer period of time – à la Apple Watch.

“Tim is not a product person.” – Steve Jobs

The Apple Watch certainly found its way – we, the users, were the Apple Watch alpha and beta testers, collectively standing in for Steve Jobs, doing much of what the singular genius would have done before release by brute force and sheer numbers after release. It took four generations of Apple Watch, but we’re here now and we wouldn’t trade the experience for anything! The same goes for Apple Glasses!MacDailyNews, January 31, 2020

See also: Contrary to popular belief, Steve Jobs knew about Apple Watch – February 13, 2023

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    1. I agree with you that Apple shouldn’t release something before it’s ready. However it’s not true that Apple has never do so before.

      Apple Newton. Its main feature was its handwriting recognition function. Early versions of the device, however, often returned garbled or confused interpretations of the user’s input.

      This would later become a running joke and even featured in an episode of the Simpsons. This issue, as well as its fairly large size (rendering it impractical as a pocket-sized device), would ultimately make it a flop.

      Apple’s Powerbook 5300 was released in 1995 and is widely considered one of Apple’s worst products. The Powerbook was plagued with battery problems power issues, casing issues, and software bugs that would ultimately seal its fate.

      Mac Performa x200 series. This was one of Apple’s most compromised hardware designs of all time. Its poor performance contributed to the belief that Macs were inherently slower than Windows PCs.

      I love . Use them exclusively since 1989. But Apple has laid a few really bad eggs. Mostly when the company is not being run by design/product people but marketing/supply people.

      “Tim is not a product person.” – Steve Jobs

      1. Don’t forget the original Macintosh Portable in 1989. With its 15.8 lb weight and lead-acid battery it was doomed to fail. Even the portables that were reassembled Mac Plus parts by third parties sold better than that original Macintosh Portable.

    2. This is the kind of product AC would sanction, sadly. Thank goodness he’s not in there making Fire Edsel-like commentary. Or… maybe he is. Is AC really TC?

  1. Apple NEVER LAUNCHES immature unfinished products, why now with AR?

    Apple worked over a DECADE on AR, hiring many specialists & acquiring multiple firms for it. how lonnmg will it take to launch a real product?!

    MSFT, COOGLE, FB…launched VR/AR products too early and all FAILED/flopped, even ruined their reputation & profits. Apple should be carfeul not to follow the same oath & rush to commit AR just because of public pressure or just to launch on Tim Cook‘s watch before he retires within next 2 years.

    if Apple AR is not mature, do not RUSH & spoil it!
    Then again, if launching to many beta users willing to spend $ on first gen tech, make it more AFFORDABLE to encourage us & get real world FEEDBACK fast to improve 2nd gen tremendously.

  2. Much will depend on how it is presented. If it’s presented as a finished product then that would be a gauge mistake, but if it’s released as a sort of hardware preview for developers, then that could work.

    One problem is that nobody knows quite what it’s going to end up being used for. The iPhone was released as a phone, but ended up as a portable device for running apps. Watch was released a smart timepiece, but has eveloved into a number of things including health monitor.

    It’s only by putting devices into the hands of imaginative developers that the compelling and exciting uses will evolve.

      1. There’s a difference between hardware or software (think MobileMe or Apple Maps) not ready to “just work” in the real world vs. releasing a product that has “ limited support at its launch.” The original 1984 Mac had little support from software developers because nothing was written to support a mouse. Guy Kawasaki as Apple’s Mac Evangelist had to get developers to rewrite their software for the Mac. But the Mac had a clear purpose and worked extremely well.

        From the article it sounds like both problems are true at this point. The glasses aren’t ready and there’s little support for what the will do. This sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.

        Is this the second coming of the Apple Newton or the Apple camera?

        1. It’s widely accepted that the technology doesn’t currently exist to allow headsets to be built in the way the design team wishes, but by releasing an early version, developers can use them to see what is possible in the real world.

          Future versions of the hardware can incorporate improvements requested by these developers. When the real version is released, there will be a strong line up of applications to exploit the possibilities.

          It’s not and ideal solution, but it is an approach which can create some advantages for the future.

  3. If anybody has read the book After Steve these same conversations took place during the development and launch of the Watch and Air Pods. This happens with every product on earth. The push and pull between the creatives and the marketing and supply chain takes place all the time. When I was at Paramount Barry Diller said go when it was time to launch Entertainment Tonight. The product was clearly not ready and the first year was incredible bumpy. It found its groove in its second year and the show is still on the air 30 years later. The NY Times…according to sources inside and outside the company. Do they ever talk to anyone on the record. Who are these people?

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