In the world of technology, Apple has always been a game changer. With its innovative products, it has consistently disrupted markets and set new trends. From the iPod to the iPhone, and the Apple Watch to the AirPods, Apple has a knack for entering markets and making them explode. Now, the tech giant is set to enter a new product category with a mixed reality headset. But will this new venture be as disruptive as its predecessors?
The iPod Revolution
In 2000, a year before the iPod was introduced, the global shipments of compressed audio players were a mere 3.3 million. This number did not include Walkmans and portable CD players. But then, Steve Jobs introduced the iPod with iTunes, and the market exploded. Within four years, the market was eight times bigger, and Apple dominated the competition.
The iPod revolutionized the way we listen to music. Before the iPod, digitizing music was a nerdy thing. You had to rip discs, and the devices available didn’t exactly scream “cool”. But the iPod changed all that. It solved a real problem – easily digitizing and listening to music on the go.
The Apple Watch Phenomenon
In 2014, the year before the Apple Watch went on sale, just under 7 million smartwatches were shipped. Five years later, the market was more than 10 times the size. And just like with the iPod, Apple crushed the competition.
However, the growth of the smartwatch market was slower to balloon than phones, tablets, music players, or earbuds. But what’s interesting is the relationship between the smartwatch and the smartphone market. Thanks to the iPhone, Apple has a massive 2 billion person install base, that is, people who already own an Apple product.
The Mixed Reality Headset: A New Frontier
Now, Apple is expected to enter a new product category with a mixed reality headset. The headset, which is set to look like a pair of ski goggles, will offer immersive and 3D versions of FaceTime, Maps, games, fitness, and more.
In 2022, 8.8 million AR and VR headsets were shipped, with Meta’s Quest 2 taking the largest chunk of that market share. The market is smaller than any other that Apple has decided to go into in the last decade. But Apple’s entry into this market could change that.
However, there are some differences with this new venture. The initial headset is expected to be priced at $3,000, and aimed at software developers versus normal consumers. This is a departure from the Apple playbook.
The Future of the Headset Market
The future of the headset market could go one of two ways. The first scenario is like the Apple Watch. The headset gets cheaper and smaller, and Apple gives us all a reason to wear this device, not only in our windowless basements but actually out on the streets. We need to understand that this could be better than our phones or laptops at something.
The second scenario is that the market doesn’t take off. This would certainly be a new experience for Apple. But given Apple’s track record, the first scenario seems more likely.
In conclusion, Apple’s entry into the mixed reality headset market could be a game changer. It may take more time to inflate than a typical Apple product, but it could ultimately be a lot bigger. Not as big as the iPhone, but still significant. Only time will tell if Apple’s new venture will be as disruptive as the iPod, iPhone, or Apple Watch. But one thing is for sure – it’s going to be interesting to watch.