Apple vs. Meta: Apple doesn't like the Metaverse
This year, Apple is supposed to finally take off with virtual and augmented reality. However, without Metaverse focus.
Rumors have been heard for at least five years that Apple wants to launch a VR headset with video-based AR mode, preparing for AR glasses suitable for everyday use. In 2021, reports about Apple's VR headset piled up to an extent that it was difficult to keep track of.
We heard a lot about the technology, but the really exciting questions are different: How will Apple market face computing? How will it turn a nerdy sci-fi headset into a lifestyle product? What are the applications of VR glasses and for what audience? And what is Apple doing differently than the competition?
One metaverse, many visions
For the biggest driver of VR and AR technology, namely Meta, the advertising message is clear: VR and AR glasses are the gateway to the Metaverse, the "embodied" successor to the Internet, as Zuckerberg says. In the Metaverse, we will play, work, trade, and spend time with other people. That's the vision.
Because the concept of the Metaverse is fuzzy, it provides a wonderful projection surface. Any organization can craft its metaverse or define it in a way that allows it to attack meta. In any case, there is no lack of approaches, opinions, and definitions. Whether from Google and Co. or the inventor of the metaverse himself, Neal Stephenson.
But what is Apple's position on the metaverse?
Apple: The Metaverse is taboo
Officially, the company has not commented on the Metaverse or its VR and AR hardware, which is still waiting for an announcement after years of research and development. Now, Apple reporter Mark Gurman claims to have found a well-informed source that sheds some light on the matter. When asked what Apple is ultimately aiming for with VR and AR, his source had this to say:
"I would be shocked if the word 'metaverse' was mentioned on stage when they announce the headset. I was told pretty directly that the idea of a completely virtual world that users can escape into - like Meta's vision of the future - is taboo for Apple. Current executives and past ones like Jony Ive have pushed for the VR headset not to be an all-day device, but one used in between for gaming, communication, and content consumption. The AR glasses are what Apple prioritizes because they can be worn all day and don't take anyone out of their real-world environment."
Apple and Meta have the same goal
This fits with Tim Cook's earlier comments about virtual reality, so it's no surprise. The Apple CEO repeated several times in the past that he sees virtual reality as a socially isolating technology.
But the question remains how Apple will market a more or less clunky VR headset that is internally only meant as an interim solution. The only thing that is clear is that Apple wants to distance itself from Meta's advertising message, or at least the advertising message that is imputed to Meta here.
Because Meta has the same goal as Apple: not a virtual reality dystopia, but AR glasses suitable for the masses that you can wear all day without disconnecting from the world and the immediate environment. Because only those have the potential to become as commonplace as the smartphone - and as successful.