Some Apple Employees Seriously Concerned About Mixed-Reality Headset as Announcement Draws Closer
Some Apple employees are concerned about the usefulness and price point of the company’s upcoming mixed-reality headset, The New York Times reports.
Initial enthusiasm around the device at the company has apparently become skepticism, according to eight current and former Apple employees speaking to The New York Times. The change of tone reportedly marks an unprecedented level of concern about a new Apple product inside the company, in stark contrast to previous product launches that were pursued with single-mindedness and enthusiasm.
The first-generation headset is purportedly seen as a bridge to future products that require technological breakthroughs, but many employees are said to have worries about the device’s $3,000 price point, utility, and unproven market. Skeptics have questioned if the device is “a solution in search of a problem,” unlike the iPod and iPhone. The headset has apparently not been “driven by the same clarity” as Apple’s other products.
Some Apple employees have defected from the project due to doubts about its potential, while others have been fired over lack of progress with some of the device’s functionality, including Siri. The discontent is said to extend to members of Apple’s leadership, some of whom have questioned the device’s prospects.
The headset was apparently presented to many of Apple’s top 100 executives via a video at a corporate retreat five years ago made by design chief Jony Ive. The video depicted a man in a London taxi wearing an augmented reality headset calling his wife in San Francisco, sharing the sights of London through the husband’s eyes.
The New York Times reaffirmed previous reports that the headset will feature a carbon fiber frame, a hip-mounted battery, outward-facing cameras, two 4K displays, prescription lenses for wearers of glasses, and a “reality dial” to increase or decrease real-time video pass-through from the surrounding environment.
Apple has focused on ensuring that the device excels at videoconferencing and time spent as virtual avatars, calling the headset’s main application “copresence.” There will also be custom high-resolution TV content from Hollywood filmmakers including Jon Favreau. Despite similarities with Meta’s headsets and the “metaverse,” Apple is expected to pitch the device as something that differs from existing offerings.
The device will also offer tools for artists, designers, and engineers, enabling drawing and image editing in 3D space. There will also be applications for editing virtual reality video using hand gestures. As a result, it is expected to appeal to businesses and design companies more than ordinary consumers. Some employees have allegedly speculated that Apple could again delay the headset’s launch, even though manufacturing is now underway for an unveiling in June.