Apple CEO Tim Cook
Apple CEO Tim Cook says people would want to buy a mixed-reality headset, despite a lack of use case. Wikimedia Commons

Apple CEO Tim Cook has explained why he thinks people are likely to buy a mixed reality headset, but details about the company's long rumoured virtual reality headset are still scarce. The top American business executive has started marketing the company's mixed-reality headset ahead of its highly anticipated launch.

In an interview with GQ, Cook explained why consumers would want to get their hands on a mixed-reality device, which could reportedly oust the iPhone in terms of popularity. Regrettably, the chief executive did not confirm whether Apple is working on the much-awaited RealityPro. Nevertheless, he told GQ that the possibility of merging the physical and digital world could improve connection and communication between people.

Will Apple launch a mixed-reality headset?

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman suggests the American tech giant is gearing up to unveil its VR/AR headset at the impending WWDC 2023, which is slated to kick off on June 5. Surprisingly, Apple is still mum on the development of its mixed-reality headset. A report by The Indian Express implies it has been in development for about 7 to 8 years.

The consumer market for XR (Extended reality) headsets currently appeals to a small section of the population due to a lack of use cases. So, leading tech giants aren't keen on getting into the headset space. Cook, on the other hand, believes such a device has a potential use case in corporate environments, art, communication, and creative applications.

Apple mixed-reality headset production, expected release date

According to renowned analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the Apple mixed-reality headset isn't likely to become official at WWDC. Kuo attributed the company's decision to push back the device's production to a lack of positive feedback surrounding the AR/MR headset announcement. Apparently, the company wants to recreate the iconic "iPhone moment" with the unveiling of its MR headset.

To those unaware, the "iPhone moment" is a reference to when the first-ever iPhone was announced by Steve Jobs. Apple is hoping to get a similar reaction with its MR headset. Furthermore, Kuo claims Apple has pushed the mass production schedule for assembly back by another 1-2 months to mid-to-late Q3 of 2023. Given that the device isn't likely to see the light of day anytime soon, the Cupertino-based tech firm is prepping to improve its profile in Hollywood by spending $1 billion a year on films.

The newfangled Mixed reality technology strikes a perfect balance between various aspects of AR and VR. To recap, mixed reality tech gained popularity back in 1994. The term also made its appearance in a paper by Paul Milgram and Fumio Kishino called "A Taxonomy of Mixed Reality Visual Displays." The paper describes a virtual continuum as "the mixture of classes of objects presented in any particular display situation."

It is worth noting that Apple is not the first company to try to make a mixed-reality headset. Regrettably, most of the companies working on the MR device failed to take full advantage of the technology that unifies multiple characteristics of AR and VR. In fact, even VR headsets haven't lived up to the expectations of their creators. For instance, Sony's PlayStation VR 2 has reportedly managed to sell only 270,000 units worldwide after hitting store shelves in February.

Despite the leadership of Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook parent Meta is struggling to find success with its VR business. Cook has previously shown distrust towards smart glasses, which he believed people will not buy. However, the executive now claims his thinking has evolved. So, Cook thinks Apple could achieve something truly innovative in the AR/VR segment. Meanwhile, Gurman and Kuo have been divulging key details about Apple's purported mixed-reality headset for years.

According to a Bloomberg report, the company is prepping to sell about one million units of the headset in the first year. However, The New York Times claims there is a rare disagreement over the device's success within Apple. Apparently, some believe the headset isn't likely to garner popularity amid an uncertain economic environment. Moreover, it has a less appealing use case, coupled with a steep price tag of $3,000.

Past leaks suggest the VR/AR headset will sport a couple of 8K displays and 12+ cameras for seamless tracking. Aside from this, the mixed-reality headset could come with a digital crown that allows users to toggle between VR and virtual pass-through. Lastly, the headset is expected to run its own operating system and have a dedicated App Store.