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Apple could resurrect the metaverse with a headset: Apple AR headset

Apple could resurrect the metaverse with a headset, but it’s a risky (and overdue) bet

Party like it’s 2021… Apple ($AAPL) could tap back into tech’s old New Big Thing: the metaverse. At its annual software conference this week Apple is expected to reveal long-awaited details of its mixed-reality (both VR and AR) headset. It would be the company’s first new major product line since 2014’s Apple Watch — and has been called Tim Cook’s riskiest move as CEO.

The rumored $3K price tag is steep, about 6X the cost of Meta’s recently announced $500 Quest 3 and roughly 3X the price of Sony’s PSVR2 (including the PS5 needed to use it). Analysts expect fewer than 500K Apple headset shipments in year one.

Standout specs could include a live POV view-sharing feature called “copresence,” 4K displays, and screens on the front of lenses that digitally display users’ eyes (not creepy at all).

Keep in mind: Apple is rumored to have been developing the device for seven years, and it faces pressure to release it before its hardware becomes outdated.

Virtual reality bites… There have been better moments to jump into the metaverse as companies reroute their virtual-world investments into the new buzzword: AI. Disney shut down its metaverse strategy division this year, and Microsoft scaled back its team building AR goggles. Globally, VR/AR device shipments fell 12% to fewer than 10M last year, while Sony’s new headset badly missed its launch-window sales target of 2M units. Use of the tech has been mostly limited to gaming. And consumers have yet to embrace face gadgets (flops include Google Glass, Snap Spectacles).

It can pay to be late… to a party that hasn’t started. Apple has shown it can expand (and define) the markets that it enters (see: iPhone, Apple Watch). Its interconnected ecosystem of iProducts and famously sleek design could give it an edge, letting it set a standard and compete for market share. But it’s risky: Apple has apparently poured billions into its headset project, and failure would smudge its reputation (and dent profits).

Apple Vision PRO AR headset is here and priced at $3499