Apple AR headset: There are already predictions for the next generation
The first Apple headset has not even been announced yet, and the predictions for the second generation are already starting.
As is often the case, they come from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who bases his predictions on supply chains and the components available on the market. Kuo is sometimes right and sometimes wrong. Nevertheless, his thoughts are usually interesting because they bring different manufacturers, components and prices into play.
Apple's second headset generation to launch in early 2025
Kuo estimates that Apple's second tech headset will be launched in the first quarter of 2025. Suppliers are expected to deliver the components starting in the second half of 2024.
Kuo expects Apple to make a stronger distinction between high-end models and lower-priced devices in the second generation. By 2025 or 2026, Apple could have shipped up to ten million pairs of headsets thanks to this strategy.
According to rumors, Apple will rely on so-called pancake lenses starting with the first headset. These lenses are the basis for comparatively slim VR headsets due to their thin design and low weight. Meta also uses flat pancake lenses for the Cambria XR headset, which is expected to be launched in the fall.
Focus on the lenses
Kuo apparently gets his information from the lens manufacturers' surroundings, at least he refers to these companies in his current analysis. According to Kuo, the companies Genius (first supplier) and Young Optics (second supplier) supply the pancake lenses for the first Apple headset. They are also said to be involved in the second-generation headset.
However, optics manufacturer Largan, which is already the largest lens supplier for smartphones, is said to play a role in Apple's plans for the second generation. For Apple, the company is said to be increasing production capacity at its new factory in Taichung.
According to Kuo, the pancake lenses are expensive: Two lenses are needed for each headset, and the total price for a set is supposed to be between $30 and $40. According to Kuo, that is roughly equivalent to 20 high-quality 7p lenses like those installed in smartphone cameras.
Kuo expects the lenses to become more expensive rather than cheaper as their quality increases, calling them a "new growth driver" for companies in Apple's optical supply chain.
Recently, industry magazine The Elec reported that LG is positioning itself to become Apple's main supplier of micro OLED panels for the second Apple headset.
Please keep in mind that Apple has not even announced the first Apple headset until this day. All we know is that Apple is investing in smartphone AR with ARKit and Tim Cook thinks augmented reality is great.