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Apple’s mixed reality glasses might launch too early, should we be worried?

Published Mar 13th, 2023 6:50AM EDT
Apple mixed reality glasses render - bottom view.
Image: Ian Zelbo

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Apple is widely expected to launch the first generation mixed reality glasses this year, although the release schedule has been delayed numerous times. Several insiders revealed the purported specs and features of the sophisticated headset, claiming that Apple still has to iron out various issues with the glasses.

It’s all happening at a time when competitors are largely pretending to have smart glasses in the works for the near future. The augmented reality (AR) concepts we saw recently at MWC only prove there’s a lot of work ahead for Apple’s rivals. And they indicate some companies might be waiting for Apple’s lead.

But a new report about Apple’s mixed reality glasses gives us reason to worry about the device. Apparently, Apple might be hurrying the product launch, with Tim Cook looking to have the wearable in stores this year. Even against the wishes of those working on the project.

According to The Financial Times, the Apple CEO wants to secure his legacy with the mixed reality headset. Seven years in the making, the device will be the precursor of nimble AR glasses. And the first Apple project the company devised under Tim Cook’s leadership.

The glasses will be bulkier than prescription glasses, looking more like ski goggles, per the FT. The device focuses on content consumption and communication. All of that might cost around $3,000 when the product hits stores.

Xiaomi Wireless AR Smart Glass Discovery Edition prototype under glass.
A closer look, but Xiaomi’s AR glasses are still inside a glass enclosure. Image source: Chris Smith, BGR

These aren’t surprises to anyone following closely rumors detailing Apple’s progress with the mixed reality glasses. What’s different from other leaks is that the FT says Tim Cook is pressuring the teams to ship the handset.

People familiar with Apple’s inner workings claim that the timing of the launch has been a source of tension since development started in 2016. The report details a fight between the operations team, which grew stronger under Cook, who rose himself through the operations side of the business, and the design team, once the powerhouse at Apple under Jony Ive’s supervision.

The operations team wanted this “version one” product. The ski goggle headset. The industrial design team wanted to delay the product until a lightweight AR glasses product became technically feasible.

Tim Cook and Jeff Williams pressed ahead in favor of a 2023 launch for the mixed reality glasses, people familiar with Apple told the FT. Cook has been hyping augmented reality for years, teasing that Apple is working on glasses that can deliver AR experiences beyond what’s available on iPhone.

The report doesn’t mention an actual reveal date for the mixed reality glasses. Or a release date for the expensive Apple product. But the report says something we’ve heard before. Given the price tag, Apple only aims to sell about a million units in the first year.

Therefore, sales of the wearable alone won’t be enough to prove that Cook was wrong or right to force a 2023 launch, assuming the FT report is accurate. It’s all going to be about the reception from those early buyers.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.