Bloomberg reports that Apple has delayed the release of its highly-anticipated augmented reality (AR) glasses, and instead plans to unveil a cheaper mixed-reality headset. The company had originally hoped to release the AR glasses after the debut of its mixed-reality headset, which combines both AR and virtual reality. However, due to technical challenges, the AR glasses have been put on hold and a lower-cost version of the mixed-reality headset is now expected to be released in 2024 or early 2025.
The shift in plans highlights the difficulties Apple faces in entering the AR and VR market. The company is betting that these devices could be a major source of revenue, but the technical challenges of producing a consumer-friendly product have proven difficult for many tech companies. Apple’s initial dream of offering a lightweight pair of AR glasses that people could wear all day now appears to be many years away, if it happens at all.
Unlike virtual reality (VR) headsets, which offer a more immersive experience, AR glasses overlay visuals and information on real-world views. The hope is that users could wear such glasses as they go about a normal day, but earlier attempts at the concept, such as Google Glass, have not gained significant traction.
The high cost of the mixed-reality headset, which is expected to cost around $3,000, could also make it more of a niche product. The company is aiming to lower the price of the follow-up mixed-reality device by using chips on par with those in the iPhone rather than components found in higher-end Mac computers. This will put Apple in direct competition with Meta Platforms’ mixed-reality headset, which costs $1,500.
Trademark filings made by Apple hint at the dual device strategy. The documents have included the names “Reality Pro” and “Reality One.” The Pro name is likely for the initial model, while the “One” suffix could be under consideration for the cheaper version. There also is a trademark filing for “Reality Processor,” hinting at the name for the dedicated chip.
Despite the delay, Apple remains committed to the AR and VR market and is focusing on the lower-cost headset instead of the AR glasses. However, with the postponing of the AR glasses indefinitely and the pared back work on the AR device, it remains to be seen if Apple will ever be able to deliver on its original vision of a lightweight pair of AR glasses that people could wear all day.