Apple’s unreleased blockbuster new product is Cook’s gamble

In 1983, Steve Jobs put forward the slogan "Real Artists Ship" when he gave a speech inside the company.

▲ Picture from: musictech

The aim is to motivate employees to turn their dreams into reality. There should be no hesitation between creating the perfect work and launching it in the market, but putting the product into the market in a timely manner.

“We need to find a real balance between creativity and the market to be successful in the business world.”

▲ In 2010, Jobs and Ive demonstrated FaceTime on the iPhone Image from: Reuters

Even though Steve Jobs is not a person who is good at technology and design, he knows how to introduce unique innovations into the products on the market.

But after Tim Cook took over, he seemed to pay more attention to the "market" and mature business considerations, and he was less creative in the product, and he was more like a "conservative".

▲ Apple’s AR glasses are also likely to be driven by the M chip, and the picture is drawn by DALL-E 2

However, in the decision-making of AR and VR headsets, Tim Cook made a "ruthless man".

He and COO Jeff Williams, regardless of the objections of the industrial design team, insisted on launching the MR hybrid virtual head-mounted device within this year.

can't wait any longer

It is no longer a secret to the outside world that Apple will launch AR and VR headsets.

Let's start with Apple appointing Mike Rockwell as head of the AR and VR team and starting to build the corresponding teams.

Apple has been developing AR and VR devices for about seven years, far exceeding the three to four years of the iPhone.

Unlike the iPhone, which was directly led and led by Steve Jobs and Jony Ive, the VR prototype developed by Rockwell and his team encountered many adjustments in decision-making.

Originally, the development team wanted a higher resolution headset with higher and faster processing performance.

Split the VR into two parts, the host and the glasses, and connect them through a wireless connection.

It also provides a low-power standalone mode for VR devices, which can be used alone in some low-load scenarios.

However, the design team headed by Jony Ive had different opinions on the plan of the split form, and the two teams had been stalemate on the general direction for several months.

▲ The picture shows Facebook’s explicit technology, for reference only

In the end, Tim Cook was the breaker and stood on the side of Jony Ive, re-planning the new direction of the VR prototype.

In addition, in 2018, Jony Ive promoted the development of the AR glasses project. Compared with VR, AR glasses are more open and easier to become smart devices that are worn on the body for a long time.

To this end, Apple has also set the target of the corresponding virtual head-mounted device as a combination of AR and VR, using eye tracking and hand tracking to connect VR and AR.

As for the VR host that has been developed for many years, it has been integrated into the Mac. The chip that was once developed for the VR host has also become the M chip.

From the end of last year to the beginning of this year, information about Apple’s VR head-mounted devices was also frequently exposed .

It has several external cameras to analyze the user's gestures, and has a FaceTime-based virtual call function. And Apple designed a digital crown similar to Apple Watch, which can quickly switch between VR and AR.

The related product name Reality Pro, and the system RealityOS were also dug up by relevant sources. It seems that all that's left is to wait for Tim Cook to pick the right moment to introduce Apple's first virtual reality headset to the world.

But just like the problems encountered by Rockwell in the early days, even if the arrow is on the string, there are still some differences within Apple.

▲Magic Leap

The industrial design team still hopes to postpone the release of related equipment, and reminds to be patient, "hold it big", and wait for a few years when the AR technology is fully mature and the related ecology is complete, and then blockbuster.

But in the end, Tim Cook finally decided to directly release the current VR device, which is the MR hybrid virtual device previously exposed by the Information and BloomBerg.

If nothing else, there will definitely be relevant information released at this year's WWDC, maybe first RealityOS, and then the rhythm of Reality Pro release.

Following in the footsteps of Steve Jobs

In 2011, after the death of Steve Jobs, Apple only released a new device, the Apple Watch, and the general direction was also conceived and developed by Steve Jobs and Jony Ive.

During Tim Cook's tenure, no new large-scale products were launched. Instead, many accessories were developed and a set of ecology was created with the help of original products.

Even Tim Cook has increased Apple's market capitalization from $350 billion in 2011 to $2.4 trillion today.

And it will gradually transform the EarPods, which were originally included with the headset, into a nearly $40 billion AirPods wireless headset business .

However, the outside world still believes that Tim Cook lacks a unique creativity and has no ability to break the game. Instead, he continues to iterate on Apple's existing products and ideas in the past.

Recently, for Cook, it also seems to have encountered a career bottleneck period. More than half of Apple's current profits and business are related to iPhone sales.

Whether the iPhone sells well or not will also be a barometer of Apple's business in the current quarter and that year.

Recently, due to the relatively weak sales of the iPhone 14 series and some adjustments in the supply chain, Apple's business growth has not been as expected.

At Apple's regular shareholder meeting, Tim Cook also took the initiative to cut his salary by 40% to gain trust.

In addition, since last fall, 11 Apple executives have resigned successively, which also indicates the internal adjustment of Apple's top management and the alternation of the right to speak.

Once Apple's star design team almost had a considerable say, but after the chief designer Evans Hankey was about to leave and the design team was under the management of COO Jeff Williams, some of their privileges were also diluted.

This is also one of the reasons why Tim Cook and Jeff Williams did not adopt the proposal for Apple's virtual reality equipment planning this time.

Relatively speaking, Tim Cook is also eager to create a new computing platform that can determine Apple's next decade, and can be as famous as Steve Jobs and Jony Ive in Apple's history.

Tim Cook is betting on the upcoming release of AR and VR head-mounted smart devices, and also hopes to bring a bright light to the industry similar to the iPhone.

At the same time, Apple's layout in the field of virtual reality also directly affects whether Tim Cook is a successful successor to Steve Jobs, and also directly affects whether Apple still has the creativity that can revolutionize the industry.

It's a big gamble for anyone.

Sometimes it's more important to be done than to be perfect

According to the British Financial Times, Apple only set a small target of selling 1 million units in the first generation of VR equipment.

▲ This may be the ultimate goal of Apple's AR glasses

It was previously rumored that the first-generation Reality Pro is expected to sell for $3,000, and even if it reaches sales of one million units, sales will only reach $3 billion.

These can only make a small contribution to Apple, which has an annual revenue of 400 billion U.S. dollars.

However, the million-level sales volume has actually accounted for 10% of the market capacity of VR head-mounted devices. According to estimates from CCS Insight, about 10 million units will be sold in 2022.

But compared with Apple's own products, this expected sales volume is still lower than the sales volume of the first generation of iPhone and Apple Watch.

Not only the iPhone and Apple Watch, but the first-generation iPad and iPod are not considered products that are “the pinnacle of their debut”. They have more or less flaws in their positioning and functions.

For example, the first generation of the iPhone did not have a complete system, the positioning of the first generation of the iPad was unclear, and the first generation of the Apple Watch took a fashionable route, etc.

The first generation of Reality Pro may not become a product that revolutionized the industry and caused the industry to explode, as the market expected.

On the contrary, it reflects the concept of "reality artists ship", which is a balance between creativity and the market.

Analysts at Morgan Stanley wrote in a memo that many people underestimated the long-term impact of Apple's new products/services.

▲ Apple’s first-generation products are not market killers. Picture from: Financial Times

In other words, Apple's new products and services, especially the first generation, are not aimed at sales and reform, but more like a catalyst for a huge market.

A long time ago, Apple opened ARKit and invited developers to build AR apps. In addition, after the M chip gradually became the mainstream of Mac, Apple is also opening up more APIs and development tools to attract more game developers. .

In addition, Apple has also begun to invest heavily in Apple TV+ and cooperate with Dolby to expand film and television resources. These fields are also the groundwork for creating a virtual reality ecosystem.

▲ Picture from: Financial Times

Counterpoint’s Hanish Bhatia believes that Apple’s head-mounted devices may have a similar growth curve to the iPhone, with a huge development community to supplement ecology and content, and each generation of hardware will have stronger iterations.

Don't forget, what Tim Cook is best at is how to create an ecology for the product and integrate it into the workflow of Apple devices.

At present, it is still too early to evaluate the success of Reality Pro, but what Apple must do is to release related products, and it cannot be delayed any longer.

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