According to reports, Apple is developing digital glasses. However, if the product appears at all it won’t be until 2018 at the earliest.
The glasses would reportedly offer augmented reality experiences. It would also, like Apple Watch, require an iPhone for connectivity. The company is under pressure to produce new hardware products that further diversify its product lineup and generate new growth and revenues. Apple is also reportedly working on an Amazon Echo-like stand alone virtual assistant device.
According to Bloomberg, which was the first to report on Apple Glasses:
Apple has talked about its glasses project with potential suppliers, according to people familiar with those discussions. The company has ordered small quantities of near-eye displays from one supplier for testing, the people said. Apple hasn’t ordered enough components so far to indicate imminent mass-production, one of the people added.
Apple CEO Tim Cook is bullish on augmented reality and thinks it has greater market potential than virtual reality. At a technology conference in Utah, Cook reportedly said:
I do think that a significant portion of the population of developed countries, and eventually all countries, will have AR experiences every day, almost like eating three meals a day. It will become that much a part of you . . . AR is going to take a while, because there are some really hard technology challenges there . . . But it will happen, it will happen in a big way . . .
He’s also made similar comments elsewhere to investors.
Getting the product right will be challenging. Price, style, battery life and functionality must all align for such a product to be a hit. At roughly $1,500, Google Glass was an expensive, awkward-looking product that was probably several years ahead of its time. However the maturation of various underlying technologies and the right form factor could make Apple Glasses a hit.
As an indicator of the market’s potential readiness, Snap Inc.’s video-recording sunglasses proved to be an immediate hit, albeit in limited distribution.