Apple’s AR/VR headset will arrive in January 2023, analyst projects

An early augmented reality demo from Apple, featuring a smartphone instead of a headset.
enlarge An early augmented reality demo from Apple, featuring a smartphone instead of a headset.

Tech industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has made the most specific prediction about an Apple augmented reality/virtual reality headset release date yet: January 2023.

Kuo has often made accurate, informed predictions about Apple’s plans in the past, based in part on information from sources in the company’s supply chain. Thursday he published a long analysis of the VR headset industry and predicted that Apple’s device will “probably” arrive in January.

Kuo called the headset “the most complicated product Apple has ever designed,” noting that many current Apple suppliers are involved in the supply chain for the product. He also supported other recent leaks and speculation that the upcoming headset will not focus solely or primarily on augmented reality (which places virtual options in the real world) rather than virtual reality (which immerses the wearer in an entirely virtual space).

Reiterating other recent reports, Kuo noted that the device would support “see-thru video” and switch modes. He predicted that the headset would be a boon to the immersive gaming industry.

The analysis was not limited to Apple headsets, but also covered other parts of the VR/AR industry. It pointed to several weaknesses in the mixed reality business at Meta (which owns Oculus headsets, as well as Facebook and Instagram). He wrote that Meta is slowing down its investment, creating an opportunity for emerging competitors like Apple. He went on to suggest that Meta’s practice of selling VR headsets at a loss is untenable, a fact that could add to Apple’s chances.

Reports from Bloomberg and other reliable sources have already claimed that Apple is in the late stages of testing and preparing the device, citing a wider release window for 2023.

In addition, Apple CEO Tim Cook fanned the flames of AR/VR headset speculation earlier this week in an interview with China Daily USA

I am incredibly excited about AR, as you may know. And the crucial thing for any technology, including AR, is to put humanity at the center… But I think we’re still in the early stages of how this technology will evolve. I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities we’ve seen in this space, and stay tuned and you’ll see what we have to offer.

A series of insider stories from The information painted last month a photo of the development of the device, and says it has gone through several evolutions as Apple leadership debated internally about the best way forward. Reportedly, it’s a self-contained, portable concept that uses a variant of Apple’s recently shipped M2 chip won a more powerful device that would have required a base station.

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