The iPhone is the most important product Apple manufactures, and everything else is connected with it. Whether it’s hardware accessories like the Apple Watch or AirPods, or the myriad of Apple services running on these devices, the iPhone is at the center of it all. And Apple has consistently shown that it can sell more handsets at higher prices than anyone else in the business. It’s also been contradicting for years the iPhone critics who kept calling for Apple’s imminent demise. But the smartphone might not stay at the center of mobile computing for too long. The entire industry is shifting to the next big thing in tech, including Apple. That’s augmented reality (AR) glasses, with an analyst saying that Apple plans to have its glasses replace the iPhone within 10 years.
The iPhone ‘killer’ is hiding in plain sight
Several reports said in recent years that Apple is working on its own AR Glasses. These AR devices will overlay digital content on top of the real world. They’ll achieve that by beaming that information directly into the user’s eyes. The frequency of those reports increased this year, detailing more than one type of Apple Glasses.
Apple will initially launch a mixed reality headset that combines virtual reality (VR) with AR capabilities. The device would look more like Facebook’s Oculus and other VR devices out there. The AR glasses will follow down the road, featuring a design closer to an actual pair of glasses.
These devices will connect to the iPhone initially. But as technology evolves, they might not require a wired or wireless link to the iPhone. In such a case, AR devices might be able to offer users all the features they enjoy on iPhone right now. We already explained how Apple might be preparing for such a future. The first step is ensuring its devices provide a consistent user experience, regardless of form factor.
Apple won’t be the only company looking to “kill” the smartphone. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg said recently that he envisions a future where AR glasses will make us reconsider other screens.
Apple’s plan to replace the iPhone with AR glasses
Apple is likely preparing for such a future as well. While the company might not detail such long-term goals for the iPhone, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in a new note to customers that Apple wants to replace the iPhone with AR in a decade:
Apple’s goal is to replace the iPhone with AR in ten years, representing the demand for ABF of AR headsets will exceed at least one billion pieces in ten years. Apple’s sole ABF supplier, Unimicron, will be the leading beneficiary.
The analyst also explained what sort of AR glasses will let Apple “kill” the iPhone. He reiterated the idea that AR glasses will need to work independently of a different device for that to happen:
If the AR headset is positioned only as an accessory for the Mac or iPhone, it will not be conducive to the growth of the product. An AR headset that works independently means that it will have its own ecosystem and provide the most complete and flexible user experience.
Kuo further noted that Apple will need to sell at least one billion AR devices in ten years. That’s if it wants to be successful at replacing the iPhone with a device of its own.
It all starts next year, according to Kuo. That’s when Apple will launch its first-gen AR headset.