Apple doubles down on augmented reality enthusiasm

13 Feb 2017

Apple CEO Tim Cook. Image: Laura Hutton/Shutterstock

Apple CEO Tim Cook is excited by what future filled with augmented reality will look like, claiming it could be as much of a success as the iPhone.

Many of Apple’s moves in the past two decades have proved prescient or, at the very least, perfectly timed. The iPod’s release in 2001, the same year as iTunes, ultimately dominated digital music.

The iPhone quickly took the smartphone market by storm when it was released in 2007, with the 2010 iPad doing likewise in what was, admittedly, a smaller tablet market.

Apple Music was the company’s attempt to enter the streaming market, and while its success is still unclear, the next move is already apparent: augmented reality (AR).

“I regard it as a big idea, like the smartphone,” said Cook in The Independent.

“The smartphone is for everyone. We don’t have to think the iPhone is about a certain demographic, or country or vertical market – it’s for everyone. I think AR is that big, it’s huge.”

In January, Apple reported Q1 revenues of $78.4bn, saying it sold more iPhone devices in this quarter than any other in its history.

Cook claimed his enthusiasm for AR stems from its key differences to virtual reality (VR), an area other companies are perhaps focusing on.

“Unlike VR, which closes the world out, AR allows individuals to be present in the world, but hopefully allows an improvement on what’s happening presently.

“Most people don’t want to lock themselves out from the world for a long period of time, and today you can’t do that because you get sick from it. With AR, you can; not be engrossed in something, but have it be a part of your world, of your conversation. That has resonance.”

In 2013, Apple bought Israel-based motion sensor firm PrimeSense for $360m, the first step down the AR road. Since then, behind the scenes, things have sped up.

Reports have recently emerged of a partnership with Carl Zeiss, which is apparently working with Apple on a pair of lightweight glasses.

Robert Scoble suggests that the partnership is so strong, that Carl Zeiss did not showcase any AR or VR merchandise at CES this month, as part of a supposed agreement between the duo.

Citing a source at Carl Zeiss, Scoble thinks an Apple product could be launched as soon as this year.

Apple CEO Tim Cook. Image: Laura Hutton/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic