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Apple has been dabbling heavily in augmented reality for the past couple of years, with Apple CEO Tim Cook making it clear back in 2016 that the company was very interested in both augmented reality and virtual reality, signalling the company’s plans that would later culminate in the introduction of ARKit with iOS 11, and although the company is taking its usual measured approach to new technology, having begun simply with hardware and software frameworks that use iPhone and iPad cameras to enable a wide range of AR experiences, rumours continue to circulate that the company is secretly working on a more serious AR/VR product — likely either glasses or a headset unit that could see the light of day as soon as next year.
Now it appears that Apple is showing yet another sign of how serious it is about building an augmented reality product, with the creation of a new senior management position focused specifically on marketing of AR solutions. According to a new report by Bloomberg, Apple has appointed company veteran Frank Casanova to the position, which will oversee “all aspects of Product Marketing for Apple’s Augmented Reality initiative.”
Although it’s still unclear exactly what that “initiative” is, the creation of a dedicated position to lead Apple’s marketing efforts in this area serves as another sign that the company clearly plans to go beyond the ARKit capabilities of its iOS devices into an actual new product — Apple has not traditionally appointed senior marketing personnel simply to promote iOS features.
Frank Casanova has a 30-year history at Apple, and prior to his most recent appointment, he held the position of Senior Director of iPhone Partner Marketing for 12 years, where he worked to negotiate deals with wireless carriers, a role in which he was instrumental in helping with the launch of the original iPhone back in 2007. Prior to that, Casanova spent almost ten years heading up the macOS graphics, audio, and video division, leading development of products like the QuickTime player.
There’s now a name and face on Apple AR efforts and a person with a track record of working on advanced technology projects at Apple. Frank is the ideal person to lead Apple’s efforts in AR.Michael Gartenberg, former senior director of marketing at Apple.
While Apple has naturally declined to comment, Michael Garterberg, a former Senior Director of Worldwide Product Marketing, told Bloomberg that Casanova’s proven track record with advanced technology projects at Apple makes him ideal for the position. Casanova’s official title is “Senior Director, Worldwide Product Marketing, Augmented Reality” which will likely have him reporting to Apple’s Senior VP of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller.
Rumours of an Apple AR headset have been gaining traction over the past year, with Apple having begun acquiring significant AR engineers and researchers as early as 2016, followed by a late 2017 report that revealed that the company was starting to source suppliers and working internally on a new “rOS” operating system to power the device. The company also reportedly acquired a notable Danish AR startup around that same time, although news of that acquisition didn’t break until last fall, almost a year after the initial acquisition. While Apple’s culture of secrecy keeps things pretty vague about how all of these hires and acquisitions fit together, it’s becoming clear that in addition to expanding its ARKit camera technology on iPhones and iPads, work also continues on a standalone headset that indeed could be launching as early as next year.