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Apple Reality Pro launch will tell us more about the future than the now

OPINION: The Apple Reality Pro reveal is about way more than the high-priced first generation headset. It will tell us about Apple’s future and how we’ll eventually exist within it.

Apple’s pending reveal of the Reality Pro mixed reality headset will be unique for a number of reasons, some more obvious than others. Namely, though, because it’s the most future-gazing product Apple has launched in a long time.

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What I mean by that is, those watching the keynote shouldn’t necessarily view the announcement of the first-generation hardware – expected to be priced well in excess of $2,000 – in its immediate context. When watching the announcement at WWDC 2023, I’m not just going to be thinking about what it means right now, but what it will means 2-3 years from now.

Unlike a new iPhone, Mac or Apple Watch, for the overwhelming majority of people tuning into the event, a Reality Pro purchase won’t be considered in the immediate future. Most of us won’t buy one for at least the first 2-3 generations.

The true intrigue will be how Apple goes about setting the table for the future by explaining what it hopes to achieve in this sector. Firstly, does the first Reality Pro headset mark Apple’s attempts to eventually supplant the iPhone as its most important product?

Or is the company simply looking to develop the single best version of this technology and dominate the market as it does with its important products that sit below the iPhone in the pecking order? Like tablets, true wireless earphones, and smartwatches.

After all, there’s probably a good few quid in supplanting the Meta Quest 3 lineage as the top dog for hardware, while also cashing-in on the ecosystem through an rxOS App Store. However, it’s not going to carry the future of the company into the next decade or more. Unless the vision is much grander than that.

Life as we know it

Furthermore, what indications will we receive from the announcement that Apple’s vision for mixed reality can eventually alter the way we live our lives, as the iPhone indisputably has?

How is Apple laying the groundwork for those experiences today, with an eye on a desired eventuality – that tens or hundreds of millions of people will own a future version of this headset/piece of eyewear?

Will this announcement leave us knowing that, inevitably, we’ll be walking around town wearing future Reality Pro generations (priced more like an iPhone than a top-end television) that’ll constantly augment a new reality.

Will we see any evidence from the keynote that Apple’s vision for this technology – as has so often been the case – will be the one that cuts through to the masses and makes it mainstream. It happened with MP3 players, tablets, and smartwatches.

What nuggets will be able to take from the Reality Pro launch that tells us, “yep, they’ve done it again… this is going to be huge”? Not now, but half a decade from now.

What will be the software-based special sauce, which transcends what we’ve seen from Meta, HTC, Magic Leap and other companies in this space? You know those pieces of Cupertino magic that often make us think “this is going to change everything.”

Apple has an awful lot riding on its mixed reality endeavours being a success. Perhaps as much as Meta, which has bet the farm on its desire to move everyone from the apps to a Metaverse.

What will we learn about the future of Apple as a company from this launch? Will we come away with an indication that there’s a new golden era beyond the iPhone now those products have ceased to wow with its annual updates?

Right now there are far more questions than answers. This might be the most important Apple product since the first iPhone launched more than 15 years ago. We might not know it for a few years, but June 5 will lay the groundwork.

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