Is Apple Working on a ‘Steve Jobs Heritage Edition’ Version of Apple Glass?

Steve Jobs iPhone 4 Credit: Kremlin.ru
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Earlier this week, prolific leaker Jon Prosser dropped some pretty massive leaked info about ‘Apple Glass’ — what he’s claiming is going to be the name for Apple’s new augmented reality spectacles — reporting that the revolutionary new product could be previewed by Apple as early as this fall, with an expectation that they’ll go on sale sometime later next year.

In fact, Prosser said that the only reason we might not see an unveil of Apple Glass in September is due to the ongoing global health crisis that would limit press attendance at Apple’s annual fall iPhone release event.

Since Apple would naturally want as much of the press to be in attendance as possible for such a groundbreaking new product, the belief is that they could delay the announcement until early next year, during an event that would likely be held sometime in March, 2021.

If Prosser’s information sounds too good to be true, that’s probably because it flies in the face of everything else we’ve heard so far, including a report that came from an all-hands meeting within Apple last fall that said that the company was planning to have an AR headset available by 2022, but that AR glasses were still at least a year out beyond that.

This report allegedly leaked out from a meeting held by Mike Rockwell, the head of Apple’s AR/VR team, likely from somebody who was in attendance, as it was described as being large enough to fill the Steve Jobs theatre. It’s hard for even Apple to keep something a complete secret when that many people are in the same room.

However, Prosser’s report turned all of that on its head, and now Prosser has doubled-down on his already somewhat dubious news that Apple plans to also produce a special “Steve Jobs Heritage Edition” of Apple Glass, which would be designed to look like the round, frameless glasses that were made iconic by Apple founder and long-time CEO Steve Jobs.

According to Prosser, who was a guest on Cult of Mac’s Cultcast podcast, these special edition versions of the Apple Glass would be similar in concept to the gold Apple Watch Edition variation of the original Apple Watch. That is to say, extremely expensive.

They’re also working on a prototype, a Steve Jobs Heritage Edition. Similar to how we had an Apple Watch Edition, like that ridiculous $10,000 gold one when it first came out.

Jon Prosser

Prosser describes the “Steve Jobs Heritage Edition” glasses as a “pure marketing ploy” and added that he doesn’t have any information on what they’ll be made of or how much they’ll sell for.

However, Prosser does claim that he has seen a prototype version of the “standard” Apple Glass, which he describes as “sleek as hell,” and similar to a pair of classic Ray-Ban Wayfarers.

He added that there are no “projector” components on the glasses, but that they’re actually using in-display technology and designed to look exactly like normal glasses, without any obvious tech “all over the place.”

Too Much, Too Soon?

While Prosser’s sources have been extremely accurate in recent weeks, offering up accurate details on Apple’s iPhone SE, including the colours and the price, along with the release timeframe of the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

However, while Prosser has a longer track record in the Android world, he only began sharing Apple leaks in February of this year, so even though he’s shared a lot of information so far, he has yet to actually demonstrate an accurate track record for any of Apple’s more significant releases, since many of his predictions simply haven’t had time to come true yet.

However, most of what Prosser has shared isn’t wildly out of line with other rumours, often simply providing more detail and depth for things we largely already know.

By contrast, this Apple Glass rumour is completely out of left field, blatantly contradicting just about everything else we’ve recently heard, which essentially boils down to the fact that Apple will be releasing an Oculus-style AR headset, which most certainly could be announced early next year just to get developers on board, but that the technology to pull of Apple Glass — especially the way Apple would want to do it — is still at least a couple of years away.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that Apple has no compelling need to rush Apple Glass. There’s no indication that any competing companies have been working on something nearly this ambitious, at least not since Google tried and failed with its own Google Glass initiative. An AR headset, on the other hand, would have to break new ground in an established market, albeit a small one.

So it’s probably no surprise that Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, who has been sharing mostly accurate info on Apple’s plans for over a decade, has called out Prosser on these latest leaks, calling the entire set of AR glasses stories “complete fiction.”

After Prosser responded, Gurman clarified by reiterating much of what we’ve already heard from last fall’s big leak: that Apple is working on two devices, with the “mixed AR and VR headset,” code-named N301, ready to be announced as early as next year for developers, and then actually released in 2022. The pure AR glasses, code-named N241, aren’t expect to launch until the end of 2022 at the latest, or possibly the beginning of 2023.

Other reputable sources like veteran Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo have also predicted similar timelines for both products recently, and while some predicted a 2019 or 2020 release two or three years ago, those timelines have naturally been refined as Apple’s plans come more into focus.

Prosser, however, stands by his sources, telling Gurman that “there’s no confusion” and he’s definitely not thinking of the AR/VR headset, adding he actually hasn’t heard anything about that at all.

Our Take

Regardless of the veracity of Prosser’s claims, it seems evident that Prosser himself believes them to be accurate, and it’s hard to believe he would suddenly mess up the reputation he’s been building recently by making things up out of thin air. However, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that Prosser may have been fed incorrect information by his sources as part of a sting operation by Apple to try and track down the weak link in its usual veil of secrecy.

By contrast, while Mark Gurman rarely shares anything nearly as mindblowing, that’s likely why he’s been able to share much more accurate bits of information for a much longer period, since we know from our own experiences that there’s a delicate line to walk in terms of how much Apple will tolerate when it comes to leaking information. Leaving aside supply-chain analysts like Ming-Chi Kuo, many of those who get information from inside sources at Apple are very careful about how much of it they publish.

While we can’t rule out the fact that Apple could have Apple Glass ready sooner than expected, it’s still really too early to tell, and Prosser’s information seems extremely detailed for something that’s still a year out. While Apple does pre-announce products from time to time, it’s usually reluctant to do so unless it’s absolutely certain that all of the engineering details are worked out. We all remember what happened with AirPower, and a set of AR glasses seems even more ambitious than that. Apple also doesn’t always need to publicly announce a product simply to get developers on board — more often than not, it approaches a few developers directly and has them sign ironclad non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).

Lastly, while they may seem cool to a certain segment of Apple fans, a set of “Steve Jobs Heritage Edition” glasses would be a complete departure from Apple’s usual style and product culture. Apple is not a company that looks to the past in that way — even the iPhone X wasn’t hyped as the “10th anniversary iPhone” that some expected it to be, and releasing a set of “Steve Jobs Heritage Edition” AR glasses would not only be even more atypical for Apple, but would also arguably be in bad taste, commercializing the legacy of a person that Apple executives highly respect.

It’s also worth noting that Apple doesn’t really release special edition products in the way most people think. The Apple Watch Gold Edition was not a marketing stunt, at least not in the usual consumer-facing way. Rather it was released solely so the pretentious fashion industry would take the Apple Watch seriously in a market dominated by the likes of Rolex, Breguet, and Patek Philippe; after all, there’s no way the Apple Watch would have graced the covers of Vogue and GQ if it had simply been perceived as a gadget for techies.

However, times have changed, and Apple no longer feels the need to dance with the fashion industry to prove itself, and we’re not convinced that a set of “Steve Jobs Heritage Edition” glasses would do that anyway, since they would cater only to a very small niche market of Apple enthusiasts.

To be clear, there’s no doubt at all that Apple is working on something very much like what Prosser has revealed this week, so the question isn’t one of “if” but rather “when.” So while Prosser could very well be correct that we might see Apple Glass sooner rather than later, we remain extremely skeptical that the company will release any limited editions at all, much less one in honor of Steve Jobs.

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