Apple recently informed suppliers its mixed reality headset probably won’t release this year, Bloomberg reports.
Bloomberg, The Information, and supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo all claim Apple is preparing to release a high end headset with high resolution color cameras for mixed reality. Recent notes from Kuo claim it will weigh 100-200 grams less than Meta’s Quest 2 and feature dual 4K OLED microdisplays.
In February 2021 The Information claimed to have viewed images of a late-stage prototype “which show a sleek, curved visor attached to the face by a mesh material and swappable headbands”. The outlet drew this impression:
Bloomberg’s new report claims Apple was intending to announce in June at its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) and ship later in the year. But “challenges related to overheating, cameras and software” mean the announcement could be pushed to late this year, and the release into 2023.
The overheating issue is said to be caused by trying to use a laptop grade processor in a lightweight headset. In November Ming-Chi Kuo reported the headset will use a “new chip with “similar computing power as the M1 for Mac”.
As we noted at the time of that report, M1 is a fairly large chip. While its power efficiency is incredibly impressive for a laptop or PC, it draws much more power and generates much more heat than the smartphone-tier processors used in existing headsets like Quest 2. That’s why Apple uses its lower power A-series chips in even its most advanced iPhones.
The report also claims Apple has “weighed prices north of $2000” for the headset. Despite this, the report also says Apple is forecasting sales of up to 10 million units in the first year. Meta hasn’t revealed how many units Quest 2 has sold, but the face foam recall documents and a comment from Qualcomm’s CEO suggest somewhere in the region of 5-10 million already.
If Apple can eventually pull off putting an M1-tier chip in a 300-400 gram headset, it may deliver a significantly higher end experience than Meta. But Bloomberg’s report suggests doing is proving harder than expected.