Apple employees are skeptical about the pricing and potemtial of its mixed reality headset

But per The New York Times, some Apple employees are worried about the rumored $3,000 price for the headset which could be called the Reality Pro. Besides the price, there are questions from Apple employees about whether the device will be useful and enthusiasm inside the company has turned to skepticism. This is unusual as Apple employees involved in the development of certain devices-like the iPhone-are usually totally focused and excited about how the world will react to a new Apple product.

In Cupertino, not all Apple employees think that Apple is doing the right thing with the Reality Pro

Three insiders at Apple who know about employee reaction to the headset say that some employees have left the project because they questioned the potential of the device. Others were fired after not much headway was made on the development of certain features including the headset’s use of Apple’s digital voice assistant Siri.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has been a huge fan of Augmented Reality, which places an overlay of computer-generated data over a real-world view. Last year Cook told some university students that soon “you’ll wonder how you lived your life without augmented reality, just like today you wonder: How did people like me grow up without the internet?” Virtual Reality, the other side of the mixed reality stew, creates immersive environments that make users feel that they are anywhere.

With VR, a user can feel that they are in the batter’s box at Yankee Stadium in front of 55,000 fans facing Shohei Ohtani. Or they can be in a room with a giant video screen watching a movie or television show. Or, VR could put a user in the cockpit of a 737 about to land at JFK in New York City while facing a massive crosswind.

Some inside Apple wonder if the Reality Pro is a product that doesn’t have a clear-cut reason for existing. For example, the iPod was designed for users who wanted to listen to their music while on the go. The iPhone combines the capabilities of an iPod with a smartphone and a handheld mobile internet device. Once the Reality Pro is unveiled, Apple might be able to position it as a device for playing games and viewing content. With AR capabilities, the headset could be considered a forerunner of Apple’s rumored AR spectacles widely seen as an iPhone replacement by 2025

Apple might ship only 500,000 AR/VR headsets this year

Even though the Reality Pro has already been delayed, some inside the company believe that Apple will delay it again. But those in the know say that headset manufacturing is underway and the June unveiling seems likely to proceed. Research firm Counterpoint Research says that Apple will ship less than 500,000 units of the headset this year, a cautious move for a product category that saw sales decline 12% to $1.1 billion last year per NPD Group.

Carolina Milanesi, a consumer tech analyst for the research firm Creative Strategies, said, “Apple is always pretty good at coming into a market when the market is already established and changing that market. This is not the case for Apple VR and XR. There’s still a lot of learning.”

The headset looks like the kind of goggles that a skier might wear with a pair of 4K displays and cameras to capture the real-world feed for AR use. Switching between the two realities might be as simple as turning a dial similar to the Apple Watch’s digital crown. The user will wear a hip pack that contains a battery that is roughly the size of two iPhone 14 Pro Max handsets. Each battery will last only two hours on a single charge which is not likely to thrill consumers.

Apple is reportedly developing second-generation high-end and low-end versions of the headset to be released in 2025. The company is hoping that component prices will have dropped enough by then to bring the pricing of these devices down sharply.

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