Apple’s much-anticipated mixed reality headset is set to be unveiled later this year, and CEO Tim Cook is under pressure to deliver a product that not only meets the expectations of consumers but also cements his legacy as a tech visionary. After seven years of development, the headset is expected to be a game-changer, featuring both virtual and augmented reality capabilities, and some insiders believe it has the potential to rival the iPhone in terms of impact.
For Cook, the launch of the mixed reality headset represents a significant milestone, as it will be the first new computing platform developed entirely under his leadership. While Apple has experienced tremendous growth under his tenure, some critics have accused the company of iterating on past ideas rather than breaking new ground. The launch of the mixed reality headset offers Cook the opportunity to prove them wrong.
However, the development of the headset has not been without its challenges. The project began in early 2016, and since then, there have been internal debates about the timing of its launch. Apple’s operations team wanted to ship a “version one” product, while the design team cautioned patience, waiting until a more lightweight version of AR glasses became technically feasible. In the end, Cook sided with the operations team, overruling the objections of the design team.
This decision is significant, as it reflects a changing dynamic within Apple since the departure of its longtime design leader, Jony Ive, in 2019. The company’s structure has been reshuffled, with design now reporting to Jeff Williams, Apple’s operations chief. This shift has been a logical progression of Apple’s trajectory under Cook, who is himself a former operations chief.
Despite the hype surrounding the mixed reality headset, Apple is only expecting to sell around a million units in its first year, at a cost of around $3,000 each. While this may seem like a modest target, Apple has a history of starting slowly when entering new product categories and then taking the market by storm within a few years. The company is preparing a marketing blitz for the new product, and its vast developer community is expected to jump on board, setting the stage for more successful launches in quick succession.
The launch of Apple’s mixed reality headset represents a crucial moment for CEO Tim Cook and the company as a whole. The headset has the potential to be a game-changer and despite the initial sales target being relatively modest, Apple’s history of starting slowly in new product categories suggests that the mixed reality headset could be the beginning of something big for the company.