Apple’s Futuristic AR/VR Headset May Be Too Expensive for Most, Aimed at Commercial Market (+ Require Monthly Subscription)

Apple View AR VR Headset Concept Render Credit: Ian Zelbo
Text Size
- +

Toggle Dark Mode

Evidence is piling up to suggest that Apple’s highly anticipated AR/VR headset could be arriving in the next several months, and while we still don’t know exactly what form the headset will take, some analysts are weighing in with their thoughts on how Apple will actually sell and market the headset.

In a new report from TrendForce that looks at the AR/VR device landscape, analyst Jason Tsai is suggesting that Apple plans to aim its new headset at the commercial market — with a monthly pricing structure to match.

In the report, Tsai cites Microsoft’s HoloLens as the model that Apple is likely to try to emulate, suggesting that the new headset will be far too expensive to even qualify as a high-end consumer product.

Instead, Tsai expects Apple’s headset to target commercial applications such as medical, engineering, and scientific endeavours.

Tsai believes that Meta’s Oculus will continue to dominate the consumer market across the board, with an advanced version of the Oculus Quest expected to come within two years to expand the higher-end of that consumer market.

Considering hardware performance requirements and gross profit margins, Apple will likely target the commercial market and adopt the same pricing strategy as HoloLens, hardware priced in the thousands of dollars and a monthly subscription-based software solution.Jason Tsai, Trendforce

What We Know About Apple’s AR/VR Headset So Far

Tsai’s take on this is somewhat understandable since every report we’ve heard suggests that the first-generation Apple AR/VR headset will cost a minimum of $1,000 — $2,000 — and some estimates have pushed that as high as $3,000. It’s not unfair to say that it won’t be priced for the average consumer.

In fact, early last year Mark Gurman described it as more of a Mac Pro than a MacBook, and Apple is pulling out all the stops to make a best-of-breed product. Here are just a few of the reports we’ve heard so far on what could be coming:

  1. Immersive 3D sensors could power gesture-based controls without the need for a separate hardware controller.
  2. Insanely powerful Apple Silicon chips will offer performance that rivals the M1 Pro/Max.
  3. High-quality optical audio will offer an incredible soundstage.
  4. Despite all this technology, it’s also expected to be amazingly lightweight.
  5. Eye-tracking, ultra-high-res 8K displays, and 15 camera modules will offer augmented reality and virtual reality experiences like nobody has ever seen before.

Even if half these rumours are true, it’s easy to see how the headset will carry a pretty hefty price tag, and it does raise the question of exactly who this device will be aimed at.

However, let’s not forget that the same questions were raised when Apple debuted the original iPhone in 2007 — a device priced at several hundred dollars upfront when even the most premium phones were available for virtually nothing on contract.

The comparison doesn’t stop there, either. The first iPhone entered a marketplace dominated by smartphones that weren’t viewed as consumer-oriented devices. The smartphones of that day were either tools for the busy executive, like the Blackberry, or gadgets for tech nerds, like early Android and Symbian devices.

The iPhone changed all that, and we think it’s pretty clear that Apple intends to do the same with its AR/VR headset.

Rumour has it that Apple’s goal is nothing less ambitious than ushering in the next generation of mobile computing. Whether it’s going to succeed at this is open to debate, but there’s no arguing that it plans to give it its best shot.

This also isn’t Apple’s first kick at releasing a product that redefines an entire area of technology, and Apple has proven already that it’s remarkably patient. The first AR/VR headset may be expensive, but so were most of Apple’s first-generation devices. These devices are designed to whet people’s appetites and give early adopters — and developers — a chance to get on board.

Once Apple has built that first headset and let the cat out of the bag regarding its AR/VR ambitions, it then has a much freer hand to build on that, and it’s probably fair to assume that it’s already planning future versions that will be considerably more affordable. In fact, we wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Apple eventually split its headset lineup into standard and “pro” models, just like it’s done with virtually every other one of its product lineups.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

Social Sharing