Bloomberg: Apple Headset May Not Ship this Year Due to Overheating, Camera Issues
Apple has recently told its supply partners that its upcoming mixed reality headset won’t probably be released this year, according to a Bloomberg report.
In the past few months, there have been reports from Bloomberg, The Information, and the supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo that Apple is planning to release a premium AR/VR headset later in the year. The headset will reportedly feature a high-resolution color passthrough. Kuo has recently released further notes claiming the headset will weigh far less than Quest 2 and will have dual 4K OLED microdisplays.
The Information published a report in February 2021 claiming to have seen images of a late-stage prototype showing a “sleek, curved visor attached to the face by a mesh material and swappable headbands”. The Information went ahead to draw this impression of the headset: –
The latest Bloomberg report claims wanted to announce the headset in June during the Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) and shipments were scheduled for later in the year. However, the headset faces challenges that are “related to overheating, cameras and software” and the scheduled announcement has now been pushed to later in the year with the release likely to happen in 2023.
According to the Bloomberg report, the overheating issue is a result of trying to fit a laptop-grade processor into a small and relatively lightweight headset. In his November notes, Ming-Chi Kuo had stated that Apple’s new headset will use a new chip that will have a “similar computing power as the M1 for Mac”.
The M1 is a considerably larger chip. Although it has an impressive power efficiency for a PC or laptop, the chip draws a lot of power and generates more heat than the smartphone-tier processors that are currently used in virtual reality headsets, including the Quest 2. Apple currently uses lower-power A-series chips in its products, including in the more advanced iPhones.
The report also says the price of the Apple headset has been weighed “north of $2000”. However, in spite of the relatively high pricing, Apple is targeting sales of up to 10 million units in the first year. Although Meta is yet to reveal the sales figures of its $300 to $400 Quest 2 headset, recent comments by Qualcomm CEO suggested Quest 2 might have sold up to 10 million units.
Should Apple manage to fit the M1-tier chip into its small form factor headset, it would provide users a very high-fidelity experience than what the upcoming premium headset Project Cambria by Meta will offer. However, as the latest Bloomberg report shows, attaining that is proving difficult, even for Apple.