For the last few months, the term ‘metaverse’ has been the go-to buzzword to mention if you wanted to gain some attention in techspace. Startups have been formed in line with it, companies have renamed whole departments and the biggest social media giant; Facebook, even renamed itself, Meta, just to show its commitment.
One company though; Apple has been suspiciously silent about the metaverse. Apple’s famous secrecy notwithstanding one would have thought that Tim Cook would have at least tried to mention it in passing to some employees or board members, even if just to push stock prices up.
But no, we got nothing significant. We only have a few mentions by Tim Cook who was forced to answer an employee when the dreaded m (metaverse) word was asked about on an Apple financial call. Katie Huberty, an analyst at Morgan Stanley asked if Tim Cook was considering the “metaverse opportunity and Apple’s role in that market.”
To this the CEO remained tactful as ever, not wanting to commit to anything (or maybe give too much away). He said that Apple was “investing accordingly” going on to mention that Apple has “over 14,000 ARKit apps in the App Store.”
ARKit is Apple’s augmented reality (AR) platform for iOS devices. It’s essentially a platform that allows developers to implement augmented reality.
As of now, ARKit apps are only limited to the phone and tablet spaces but this does not mean that Apple won’t be expanding it further. The company knows that phones and tablets are not the best way to experience such content, any more than the video iPod was the best way to watch TV.
It is also quite telling that CEO Tim Cook mentioned ARKit apps in response to a question about the metaverse. It may allude to bigger plans for the platform and perhaps an entry ‘key’ to the virtual space many are now calling the ‘metaverse’.
For now, however, it is safe to assume that will be leaning heavily towards AR and not VR. He said as much in an interview where he said that he believed AR “will be one of Apple’s biggest contributions in the future.”
This is quite a statement considering that it came from the CEO of the company that revolutionized the smartphone market with the iPhone, brought us the graphical user interface and the mouse via the Mac and also popularized voice UI’s with Siri.
Apple’s vision for the ‘metaverse’ is however expected to be a little different from Zuckerberg’s. While Meta’s is more 3D and immersive driven using VR goggles, Apple’s approach will lean more towards AR where data is superimposed on lenses so that one is able to see both the real world and virtual data and images simultaneously.
This however comes as no surprise as it is very much in line with the way Apple likes to pick its opportunities. When asked about what Apple likes to focus on Cook said “areas that are sort of at the intersection of hardware, software, and services. Because we think that that’s where the magic really happens and it brings out the best in Apple.”
Nothing shocking here with this statement too. Just look at Apple TV, tvOS and Apple TV+, a good example of how Apple likes to corner the market in terms of providing the hardware which subsidizes the software development, and then pay a subscription fee for the service on top; the holy trifecta.
We should expect Apple to employ the same strategy in its AR vision. Perhaps add-ons to Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and Apple Music to bring a true virtual and/or augmented experience into the mix? We can only wait and see. What can we be sure of is that like every Apple product it is going to be revolutionary.
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