This morning, Bloomberg reported that Apple is indeed working on an AR (augmented reality) device, aiming to ship in 2020. Apple has already been hard at work on AR, releasing an ARKit developer tool to produce AR applications for iPhone and IPads, but building a head mounted display will be much harder, according to Apple executives:
The next step -- creating a headset with a built-in display capable of streaming 3D video without draining the battery -- is much more complicated. Cook acknowledged as much in a recent interview with The Independent, when he said: “Anything you would see on the market any time soon would not be something any of us would be satisfied with.” Referring to challenges creating displays, Chief Design Officer Jony Ive told a tech panel last month that “there are certain ideas that we have and we are waiting for the technology to catch up with the idea.”
Microsoft, of course, is already well ensconced in the AR/VR world, having launched a v1 HoloLens last year as a $3,000 Developers Edition, and has talked about a HoloLens version 2, with built-in AI processing, but that device apparently won't ship until 2019.
Microsoft has also been promoting 3rd party development of what it's calling "Mixed Reality," bringing the same development experience to cheaper virtual reality devices and the HoloLens. For once, Microsoft seems to have the lead in the race to market for AR/VR, and should have second versions of both HoloLens and Mixed Reality devices in the marketplace before Apple makes an appearance.
Is that enough? Will Microsoft remain the leader in the Mixed Reality space, or will Apple and its vast consumer savvy take over, much like it did with the iPhone and the iPad? Take our poll below and let us know if you think Microsoft has anything to worry about:
Building a mixed reality ecosystem, all the way from making devices that are easy and fun to wear, to answering security concerns, to powering those devices with affordable hardware, to creating applications for the devices that people will want to use, is not going to be easy. Microsoft, with its expertise in gaming, the cloud, and a head start with HoloLens, seems to be in the driver's seat, but Apple is a consumer facing powerhouse, with lots and lots of money to throw at these hard problems.
Should Microsoft be worried? Is Apple foolish to get in the game? Let us know what you think in the comments below.