Apple's XR headset production is delayed, making a WWDC preview uncertain
In a sudden reversal, the likelihood of seeing Apple's XR headset at WWDC 2023 has become less certain.
All signs pointed toward our first look at Apple's long-rumored mixed reality headset on June 5, 2023, at the Worldwide Developers Conference. Leading Apple leaker Mark Gurman repeatedly marked this event as the debut, with the release of the Reality Pro or Reality One headset coming in the fall.
According to a recent tweet from another reliable source, Ming-Chi Kuo, who has good supply chain knowledge, Apple has delayed production by one to two months.
Apple doubts success
According to Kuo, Apple "isn't very optimistic about the AR/MR headset announcement," explaining that Apple wants it to be an "iPhone moment," and the economic downturn makes the estimated $3,000 to $4,000 price more challenging.
Kuo also mentioned some compromises had to be made to keep the project on schedule. Reportedly, the weight is a concern. Recent reports suggest Apple planned to use an external battery pack to reduce weight. This is an uncommon solution, although not unheard of. DJI's FPV and Avata drones have HMDs with external batteries.
Meta's $1,500 premium VR headset flopped, and the company recently cut the price of the Quest Pro by a third. That had to be a worrying sign for Apple. Meta is currently the leading manufacturer of VR headsets, and it's still having to cut profits to help advance the virtual reality industry and solidify the plans of building the metaverse.
When will Apple's XR headset arrive?
Kuo anticipates production might not start until the third quarter of 2023, very near the time of Apple's fall events, which begin as early as September.
If Apple cuts its production target, a November release might be possible, but it's becoming more likely that shipping could be delayed until 2024 if the device is even shown this year. Kuo suggested that Apple might aim for 200,000 to 300,000 units of its Reality headset instead of the previous estimate of 500,000.
Reports have suggested that Apple CEO Tim Cook has been pushing this project forward despite some hesitancy from within the company. Perhaps the recent secret meeting of Apple's top 100 resulted in some serious concerns coming to light and led to the delay.