Industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, a respected figure in all things Apple supply chain leaks, says the Cupertino tech giant is likely preparing to announce its long-rumored mixed reality headset early next year.

Update (June 27th, 2022): Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reached out to Road to VR to correct a previous statement claiming Apple’s MR headset would be released in January 2023. Kuo now says it’s likely to be announced then, and not released. The original article follows below:

Original Article (June 24th, 2022): In a Medium post, Kuo outlines a few key points based on how he gathers the industry is headed.

In short, Kuo posits that Meta is slowing down investment in VR hardware due to looming economic recession, but this will provide others opportunity to play catchup as market share shifts away from Meta to companies such as Sony, Valve, Pico, and HTC. It’s not VR, it’s Meta’s core business that’s taking a hit.

Kuo says there’s still a “vast” potential demand for VR headsets in China which could be filled by companies with ready access to the Chinese market, such as ByteDance subsidiary Pico Interactive and Taiwan’s HTC.

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Apple is also tapped to fill growing demand. Codenamed N301, Apple’s MR headset will “likely release in January 2023,” Kuo maintains (see update), and is set to “favor the continued rapid growth of the headset sector,” adding that it’s “the most complicated product Apple has ever designed.”

“Although Apple has repeatedly reiterated its focus on AR, I believe Apple AR/MR supporting video see-thru could also offer an excellent immersive experience,” Kuo says. “Therefore, the launch of Apple AR/MR will further boost the demand for immersive gaming/multimedia entertainment.”

N301 is said to combine VR displays with passthrough cameras for both VR and AR applications. Check out the roundup below for all of the rumors surrounding Apple’s MR headset:

What We (think we) Know About N301 Mixed Reality Headset

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  • logi43212

    It really just sound like this guy read one article which explained how Facebook is toning done spendings, and concluded Apple will take advantage and release soon to fill an assumed gap from that.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      And the gap will only be on the business VR side, not on the mainstream, as the Apple VR headset won’t be for mainstream (in terms of price).

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  • sfmike

    They all better get something new out soon because VR momentum is stalling from lack of innovation as the economy gets worse.

    • peter vasseur

      Yeah Sony needs to launch their hmd this year. Like October 10th, they need to contact me directly so I can preorder it and give them reviews for free.

    • Adrian Meredith

      No it’s stalling due to lack of content, not innovation. In any case the problem is comfort and easy of use not resolution.

  • Andrew Jakobs

    Don’t think it’s really a dogfight. AppleVR won’t be cheap (at least $2000+) so for most people it won’t be an option. Quest 2 PRO is too expensive for mainstream so it will only be a business model or real enthousiasts. So it will only be a dogfight between PSVR2 and Quest 2, but then again, you forget Pico Neo 3 Link, and for a PSVR2 it also requires a PS5, so I don’t think it will outperform the Quest 2 which already has a headstart of at least 2 years.
    Also Sony still has been quiet about backward compatibility with PSVR games, which I think is a must for having a larger library so the PSVR2 sales won’t be hindered by a small library.

    • ILoveQueens

      The price won’t be a problem. Everything indicates that Apple’s device will not be VR, it will be a MX device. Apple recently created their own financing unit. Consumer now can finance and upgrade their hardware directly with apple. The headset will most likely bundled with the new iPhones or laptops for an affordable monthly payment. Now, with a recession, sales might be slow at start, but surely, it will become a desirable product.

      • Andrew Jakobs

        Wow, and people already bitched about the price of any headset above $800… Don’t count on mainstream to buy the Apple headset. MX is also VR. Buying a headset like this on a finance program is the stupidist thing you can do.

        • Why?

          • Andrew Jakobs

            Because if you can’t buy it in one go you should not buy it. I can understand with a home or car, but this is just a luxury product. Only with real necessities should you opt for finance if you can afford it.

          • Jeff

            Fair point, though a whole lot of people finance their $1k smart phones already. It’s pretty much standard practice, and everyone just accepts it as part of the bill. If it goes to iphone proportions of interest, same could easily happen. People will see a HMD as a “necessity”, as they do their phones, eventually.

          • Andrew Jakobs

            Yeah stupid people buy a phone through finance, at least an expensive one like most Apple phones. Yeah if you can’t even afford a $200 phone, then you’ll need to finance it as a phone has become quite a necessity these days for doing your a lot of your monthly bills/taxes/etc.

            I see way too many people buying stuff through finance which even with finance is just way too expensive. And then they keep moaning about not having any money at the end of the month, also in the meantime spending a lot of money on cigarettes, booze and tattoo’s…

        • ILoveQueens

          @andrewjakobs:disqus where do you live? in the USA, people love to spend their money on stupid things, is the way the economy works. Perhaps with a potential recession, the device sales wont be as impressive at first, but Apple now has the Chinese market at their reach, this is where the growth could potentially come.

  • Rudl Za Vedno

    Why is everyone so obsessed with Apple’s headset. It’s gonna cost north of $3000 and given the specs offer worse picture quality than Varjo VR-3 or even Aero. You can send $2000 to $4000 and get Varjo today. Why wait for something that will give you worse PPD?

    • xyzs

      Because when Apple release a new product category, the entire world follows.
      Never heard about smartphones, tablets, smartwatches ?
      Basically, VR will really take off the day Apple is officially in.

      Nobody cares/know about Varjo and their 3k headset, except a few enthusiasts and a few companies, but everyone will care and talk about the Apple 3k headset, and every major company will jump into the VR business to be the cool kids too.

      How do you know it’s gonna be less good than Varjo ? You work for Apple? They have literally 1000x more RnD money to spend and they can hire the very best engineers and get the very best components. Added to that the absolutely huge difference in sales volume that allows Apple to sell for 3k something that Varjo and their low volumes has to sell for 10k…

      That’s why everyone is very interested.

      • Kenny Thompson

        Apple was / is dominant in those categories b/c they were first to market with something that didn’t suck. Not the case with VR. AR is still wholly unproven IMO so lets see if there are any real use cases. So far…. nope.

        • ZeePee

          That’s true, they’re entering a market that already has good products.

          However, there really is only one upcoming, unreleased headset that is true competition to what Apple is about to launch.

          So, it may not be first by a few months, but it’s going to be the second mixed reality headset of its kind (just a few months out from the first), and it’s going to be the best headset in the market overall, essentially.

          So, I think they are about to release something that is essentially the first of its kind, and it’ll be the best one too.

          It definitely has the potential to propel VR forward instantly, and that means Apple definitely could dominate the market pretty quickly too.

          • Kenny Thompson

            I’m not so sure…. As many have pointed out, $1k (being optimistic) isn’t a product that can reach masses when its == a glorified toy. Add to that that they are not pushing on games at all… 80% of the market…. Seems unlikely to get any real traction. But lets see. Maybe their VR avatars / meta verse plans are tip top. If nothing else, they have the $$ to make something top tier.

        • Merzcat

          VR DOES SUCK. Until there are varifocal displays and high enough resolutions that text looks normal virtual reality will just be a niche medium.

      • ILoveQueens

        Everything indicates that Apple is working on a mixed reality device, not VR. We just don’t know if it will be passthrough, or it will be similar to a nReal or magic leap.

        • dk

          haven’t u seen all the news about it ….it’s basically same as project cambria but with a bit better display
          ….the small glasses will be really limited in capabilities and come way later

        • ZeePee

          Full AR glasses are about 3 years away.

          Notification AR glasses, about two years away.

          Today, initially, it’s going to be pass through AR.

      • Jonathan Winters III

        How will it take off, at $3k per headset? It certainly won’t take over the consumer sector like Meta has.

        • James Cobalt

          The iPhone was like 4 times the cost of other mainstream phones at debut. And the monthly subscription cost was significant too. And yet…

          Apple found a way to justify the price through improving the overall ease of use and utility. They may do the same thing with XR. Maybe it’ll take a few years, but if it’s anything like their previous product launches, it will provide a stupid simple (and locked down) accessible experience and some nice quality of life improvements (like comfort, fitness tracking, etc) for the people who can afford it.

          People happily pay $1,000 for their phones and tablets, $3,000 for their laptops, and high premiums for EarPods, HomePod, Apple Watch, etc too. Maybe a $3k headset will be the mainstream in a few years.

          • psuedonymous

            The iPhone was of comparable cost to network connected PDAs of the time, of which it was a prettier but functionally more crippled version of (remember it launched without supports for apps, without the ability to copy & paste, etc).

          • James Cobalt

            The OG iPhone was twice the price of the vast majority of offerings in the network-connected PDA market, including Blackberry, Compaq, and Palm. I think Dell’s Axim line (RIP) was the only one comparably priced – and only near the end of its life.

            Which just goes to show a history of enterprise level devices selling at similarly high prices to large swaths of consumers when the tech is made approachable and compelling enough.

            Of course, the iPhone wasn’t just prettier than PDAs of the time – it was functionally far more intuitive, came with unlimited data (unheard of!), and a more useful screen for surfing the web and watching videos i.e. consumer oriented tasks.

            I vividly remember the first time I picked one up and knowing nothing about it was able to use it without questions, confusion, or searching about the interface.

          • Jistuce

            The original iPhone was really more of a “your iPod Touch makes phone calls, so you can quit carrying a cellphone” sales pitch than a “look at how many things your cellphone can do” sales pitch.

            I think it was six months before iTunes even had applications in the store instead of just music. The original intent was that if you wanted to publish software for an iPhone, it would be a website and your application would run entirely inside the browser.

          • James Cobalt

            You’re misremembering. There was no iPod Touch when the original iPhone was released – that came later based off the iPhone. Regardless, it doesn’t change the point I’m making.

          • Jistuce

            My mistake. Regardless, the original sales pitch really was more “your iPod makes phone calls now, so you don’t need to carry two pieces of electronics around”.
            The addition of software to iTunes really was a game-changer for the platform, though. And I think stealth-ing a computer into everyone’s pockets by selling it as a glorified Walkman and then just… adding the ability to be a computer later was ingenious. I’m somewhat miserly with praise for The Fruit, but I gotta admit they made a helluva end-run around any resistance to putting a computer in everybody’s pocket by flipping the switch after the fact.

          • James Cobalt

            “Apple® today introduced iPhone, combining three products—a revolutionary mobile phone, a widescreen iPod® with touch controls, and a breakthrough Internet communications device with desktop-class email, web browsing, searching and maps—into one small and lightweight handheld device.”

            I wouldn’t be surprised if they introduce the Apple headset like “a powerful gaming console, a personal computer, and a dedicated fitness trainer” or some similar combination. People need to justify the increased price by comparing the capabilities to what they’re familiar with.

    • bluetoothbday

      The biggest deal breaker for me is the lack of proposer controllers not a single report hinted toward them existing some reports even say it have or just finger controllers.

      • morfaine

        I have yet to experience a finger controlled XR device that was compelling and intuitive enough to keep using more than 5 minutes.

  • Till Eulenspiegel

    When reality bites and facing economic ruin, people will want to escape to their own fantasy island – that’s how Apple will market their headset next year. “Sell all your possession and buy this VR headset – it’s the best of class VR that will make you forget your reality.”

  • dk

    q2 300 ….q2pro 1000 ….psvr 500+wired to a console ….apple 1500-2000
    all different classes not really directly competing

  • Merzcat

    Now that they’ve ended the iPod line I wonder how they’ll implement music into the headset. Hopefully they add an option for personal collections instead of forcing people to subscribe to their Apple Music service. What would be really cool is if they made use of augmented reality and added a feature to place a virtual turntable in a room and listen to your digital collection as if they were vinyl records.

    • ILoveQueens

      Apple already has an ecosystem of hardware and services that will all connect to this headset. Where I can see some really cool apps, its in the fitness area. Some of the most profitable Apps on Quest, are fitness related. Apple already has Apple Fitness, and AppleWatch.

  • Ossi Hurme

    Someone claims that something may happen. Geesh…