So, sometimes I ramble about technology.
If true, the upcoming Apple VR headset launch could be a critical moment for Apple. This could be the first “new segment” technology developed in the post Steve Jobs era, and could help define Tim Cook’s legacy from being a supply chain guru, which indisputably has served Apple well, to being a complete package leader.
The vast majority of Apple’s technology releases over the last ten years have been either as direct results or results of rumination of Steve across the board- arguable, even the Apple Car and the move to ARM processors are work initially started or planned under Steve’s watch.
The departure of Jony Ive in 2019 was a huge moment for the company, as he had driven design at the company for the previous 20+ years, delivering most all of Apple’s renaissance products.
Tim Cook has managed those technologies masterfully, delivering Apple Watch, Apple TV (and a host of other services), and clearly allowing Steve’s mantra to continue to define the cultural experience.
Inevitably, time passes, and technology, and the needs of technology users change as well. Apple engaged AR, augmented reality, fairly early on in its rise, promoting its benefits in keynotes and product demonstrations. And while augmented reality is “neat” to look at on a phone, it’s not really the immersive experience that makes the technology shine.
Apple has also, by its silence, shunned the Metaverse, the completely immersive world championed by Meta. That leaves the “middle ground” of AR, ground that Apple has already broken ground on but not yet fully exploited.
I am guessing that is where the headset comes in. Immersive enough to engage in AR, but the uses geared more towards engagement and productivity support in the real world.
So, while it is entirely plausible that Steve had thoughts on AR/VR/AI, because he probably had opinions on just about everything, this feels like it would be the first product who gestation to market would be in the post-Steve world.
And I am guessing Apple feels its weight as well, given how long it’s been talked about and yet to see reality. If done right, it can form the foundation of a whole new business for Apple, supplementing the iPhone as a device to unify the consumer experience in a new way. If it fails, it is certainly not the end of the world for Apple, but it does start to narrow their available engagement fields of innovation.
And with the iPhone being “on the clock” as it were, however long that clock is, they will need to start building the foundation of their next act. For Tim Cook specifically, it could be his moment to share his innovation chops are as deep and strong as his management chops.