How Apple’s entry impacts competitors in the VR headset market

Jun 4, 2023, 4:26 PM UTC
3 mins read
How Apple's entry impacts competitors in the VR headset market
(Image Credit: Ian Zelbo)

Rumors surrounding Apple‘s potential announcement of a virtual reality (VR) headset at the upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference have sent shockwaves through the tech industry, prompting competitors to scramble and refocus their efforts. As interest in the metaverse concept wanes and hardware sales struggle, Apple’s foray into the VR world could bring renewed attention and innovation to a niche market that has long sought to capture a broader audience.

Apple’s rumored entrance into the VR landscape comes at a critical juncture when the metaverse dream has lost some of its allure for consumers. While companies like Meta have been steadfast in their investments, public interest has waned. However, Apple’s arrival could serve as a validation of the technology’s potential, spurring further developments and expanding the applications of VR and augmented reality (AR) technology.

George Jijiashvili, principal analyst at Omdia, a leading tech research and advisory firm, believes that Apple’s successful creation of a compelling headset with practical applications would validate VR as the next frontier of technology and revolutionize how we interact with it. The impact of Apple’s entry extends beyond overshadowing competitors; it could inspire them to bounce back from recent market setbacks. Jitesh Urbani, a research manager at International Data Corporation (IDC), notes that Apple’s announcement will draw attention to the market and help educate users, a task at which Apple excels.

Despite its track record of dominating markets, Apple faces a bigger challenge with VR and AR due to its niche nature. However, the company’s penchant for disruptive innovation, as seen with the iPod and iPhone, suggests that they could replicate their success in the VR and AR realm. Speculations suggest that Apple’s forthcoming headset may feature high-end screens, eye- and hand-tracking capabilities, and a separate battery pack. While Meta enhances its Quest headset and lowers the entry price, Lenovo positions its offering in the mid-range market. Competitors like Magic Leap and Sony also present unique propositions for enterprise customers and gamers, respectively.

One of the primary obstacles in the VR market is moving beyond gaming and appealing to a wider audience. High price points deter many potential users, making it essential for Apple and other companies to create compelling applications and ensure user comfort. The involvement of Apple, with its reputation and influential ecosystem, is expected to encourage app developers to invest in VR, expanding its potential use cases beyond gaming. However, widespread mass-market appeal may only be achieved when prices drop, and standout applications emerge.

While Apple’s VR headset may not achieve overnight success or replicate the iPhone phenomenon, it represents a pivotal moment for the industry. It reinvigorates interest in VR and AR and offers a glimpse into the potential applications outside the gaming realm. While Meta may retain its market dominance for now, Apple’s entry is poised to disrupt the status quo, driving innovation, and enticing enterprise and developer customers. The stage is set for the industry to witness an evolution that could redefine how we engage with technology.

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