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Apple AR/VR headset will ‘likely release’ in January 2023, insider predicts

Apple mixed reality glasses render - front view.

Apple’s first AR/VR headset might release in stores by this time next year. That’s according to a prediction from well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo a few weeks ago. The analyst is back with a more detailed look at the current augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) industry, as plenty of Apple rivals are developing their own next-gen smart glasses wearables.

That’s where the analyst repeated his claim that Apple will likely release the mixed reality headset in January 2023, a prediction that’s in line with his previous remark. But don’t expect to buy the first Apple AR/VR headset in stores come January.

Meta’s development slowdown

Kuo penned a blog post rather than a Twitter thread to detail his view of the VR industry.

In previous days, Kuo pointed out on Twitter more than once that Facebook (now Meta) is slowing down its investments in its next-gen VR headsets, which could lead to launch delays. That was just days after Mark Zuckerberg demoed some of the technologies Meta is developing for its future AR/VR headsets.

Kuo further elaborated on Meta’s interest in the AR/VR space in the blog post, saying that the company has been selling VR headsets at a loss in recent years. But this helped the company promote VR devices and encouraged people to purchase them.

As a result, Kuo said that Meta’s intention to slow development would not hinder the VR industry’s growth.

The AR/VR headset industry will continue to grow

Moreover, Meta isn’t alone in developing AR/VR headsets. Besides the new entrant Apple, we have established players in the industry. The list includes HTC, Microsoft, Sony, and Valve. Then there’s also VR headset maker Pico, which is a leading brand in China.

Kuo said that the continuous growth of the VR industry is a clear trend, with all these companies expected to ship more headsets this year. And Apple “is a game-changer for the headset industry.” Kuo believes that the Apple AR/VR headset’s likely release in January 2023 will favor the industry’s continued growth.

PlayStation VR2 headset and Sense controllers.
PlayStation VR2 headset and Sense controllers. Image source: Sony

The analyst repeated his previous remarks about Apple’s revolutionary AR/VR headset. He said in the past that many Apple rivals would copy the mixed reality (MR) device’s hardware and software as soon as it releases. He also explained recently that he expects the headset to seamlessly switch from AR to VR, a feature unavailable on VR-only devices:

Although Apple has repeatedly reiterated its focus on AR, I believe Apple AR/MR supporting video see-thru could also offer an excellent immersive experience. Therefore, the launch of Apple AR/MR will further boost the demand for immersive gaming/multimedia entertainment.

Apple AR/VR headset release date

Kuo also noted that Apple’s AR/VR device will be the “most complicated product” the company has ever designed. As a result, many existing suppliers will also be part of the AR/VR headset’s supply chain.

Furthermore, Kuo said “Apple is an industry leader with significant competitive advantages and doesn’t need to join the Metaverse Standards Forum now.”

After the Apple AR/VR headset’s release, Kuo thinks “Apple’s global rivals will compete to imitate it, leading the headset hardware industry to the next stage of rapid growth and benefiting the related services and content ecosystem.”

Apple mixed reality glasses render - side view.
Apple mixed reality glasses render – side view. Image source: Ian Zelbo

Kuo’s comments make sense. Apple usually sets the tone for any industry it enters. Even if it’s not the first company to make a specific product. That’s why Apple’s absence from the Forum should surprise nobody. Many of those companies will likely try to replicate Apple’s devices.

As for that January 2023 likely release for the AR/VR headset, that’s just speculation. Even if accurate, Kuo probably refers to Apple’s launch event for the product, not the in-store release. The analyst said recently that Apple might unveil the AR/VR headset during an event early in January 2023.

The AR/VR headset will be available for developers in the weeks following the event. But commercial preorders would start only in the second quarter of 2023 in such a scenario. Apple’s AR/VR headset will then get a May or June in-store release date.

While we wait for Apple to announce the mixed reality glasses, here’s what Meta has been working on.

More Apple coverage: For more Apple news, visit our iPhone 14 guide.

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.