Apple staff in doubt about mixed reality headsets
April 3, 2023
There was a momentous meeting at Apple Inc. last week, with the company’s top 100 or so executives descending on the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California.
The group, known as the Top 100, was there to see Apple’s biggest new product in years: its mixed reality headsets. The device has been demoed for the set, marking a key milestone ahead of the earbuds’ planned public debut in June. It’s been a chance for mixed reality headsets to rally leaders around what may be the next major platform beyond the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch. Now, this isn’t the first time the top 100 has taken a look at headphones.
Apple’s Technology Development Team, the teams behind the mixed reality idea, has quietly demoed the product to the company’s top decision-makers every year starting in 2018. (Such presentations are billed as “demos of Fight Club”, a nod to the line from Brad Pitt’s tape that the “first rule of Fight Club is you don’t talk about Fight Club”). But this time it has been different. Previous protests were low-profile affairs, meant to demonstrate the surge and secure key personnel to carry on. The latest preview took place at the Steve Jobs Theatre, Apple’s biggest showcase, signaling that a public presentation is coming up. The executives attended the event prior to arriving at their annual outdoor venue, held at a resort in Carmel Valley, California.
“It’s not ready”
the employees mention.
Although Apple’s mixed-reality headset is only months away from launch, certain employees in Cupertino, California, don’t seem to believe the device is ready yet, according to a report in The New York Times.
“Certain employees have had no doubts about the plan, others are skeptical about the headset’s win potential, especially at $3,000”
the report says.
According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple recently demonstrated the device to 100 Apple executives at the Steve Jobs Theater in California, “signaling that a public launch is on the horizon.” Apple is expected to introduce the headphones at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June. Apple and the voice of the skeptics The Times indicates that there has been some internal turmoil at Apple about the future of mixed reality headsets.
While it seems fairly common any time an organization enters an entirely new product category, the report argues that it’s different this time. Some internal skeptics wonder if the new device is the solution. Unlike the iPod, which put digital songs in people’s pockets, and the iPhone, which combined the power of a song player and a phone, headphones don’t have such clarity.
Part of that uncertainty was fueled by a sequence of executive departures from the product design team, starting with Jony Ive in 2019 through the departure of his replacement, Evans Hankey, last year. Thereafter, Apple has not earmarked a new industrial design lead, and engineer Mike Rockwell was reportedly left in charge of developing the earphones. Doubts from both Apple employees and management have some workers wondering if the company will delay the launch of the headphones, according to The New York Times. However, this does not appear to be the situation as production of the device and its launch in June are still ongoing.
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