Apple's rumoured mixed reality headset will be a "game-changer" in the market of augmented reality (AR)/ virtual reality (VR) headsets, prominent analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has said in a note. The analyst also reiterated that the launch of the mixed reality headset would take place in January 2023. Apple's move is expected to be imitated by its global rivals that would help expand the mixed reality headset market. Meta, Sony, and HTC are already in the race. Similarly, Microsoft has been catering to enterprises with its mixed reality experiences-enabling HoloLens headset.
In the note published on Medium, Kuo said Apple would "likely release" its mixed reality headset in January to favour the "continued rapid growth" of the headset market. Some previous reports also suggested a 2023 launch schedule for the headset. Earlier this month, Kuo also said that the headset would be announced during a media event.
"The launch of Apple AR/ MR will further boost the demand for immersive gaming/ multimedia entertainment," Kuo said.
The analyst also noted that the headset by the Cupertino company would be its "most complicated product" and involve many existing suppliers in the development.
"After Apple launches AR/MR headset, I think Apple's global rivals will compete to imitate it, leading the headset hardware industry to the next stage of rapid growth and benefiting the related services and content ecosystem," the analyst said.
Unlike Apple, Meta is slowing down its hardware investment and reducing its VR hardware focus. Kuo said that the reasons for the slowdown include the economic recession as well as challenges in the core business. One of the key hurdles for the social media giant is due to Apple's recent privacy updates that have made it difficult to generate advertising revenues. Meta competitor Snap was also significantly impacted due to the privacy changes brought by the iPhone maker.
Kuo said that Meta sold its Oculus VR headsets at a loss to gain a high market share over time. But the strategy, according to the analyst, is unsustainable amid the "risk of core business recession" and would help other existing VR headset makers to grow their market.
Other players in the market, including Sony and HTC are likely to be benefited by Meta's slowdown in the VR hardware investment.
Sony is speculated to launch its PlayStation VR2 headset in the first quarter of 2023 that would help bring more AAA game titles to debut specifically with immersive experiences. The headset was unveiled at CES earlier this year. HTC would also increase its VR headset shipment by at least 30–40 percent year-on-year in 2022, Kuo said.
Microsoft is also expected to launch its new HoloLens headset in the second half of the year, while Valve is said to be developing a new headset to grow its presence in the VR market.
Initially, Apple was rumoured to take on other players in the market by introducing its mixed reality headset this year. The company, though, had to delay the launch due to initial hiccups at the development stage.