Apple seeking partnership to launch AR gear
Apple’s (AAPL) desire to raise another blockbuster product outside the iPhone seems to be leading the company down a path that has largely produced mixed results for its technology peers. According to a rumor cited by AppleInsider, Apple is working with VR (augmented reality) hardware specialist Carl Zeiss in what could lead to an Apple branded AR glass, similar to Alphabet’s (GOOGL) Google Glass or Microsoft’s (MSFT) HoloLens.
Alphabet’s initial attempt at a smart glass, which can shot videos and access the Internet, flopped, and so the company has been working to repurpose the device. Although Alphabet stumbled with Google Glass, Microsoft is hoping to strike gold with its AR gear HoloLens, and now, Apple is showing interest in a similar product.
But an AR gear move would be Apple’s second hardware product outside its comfort zone of the smartphone, the tablet, and the television box space. The Apple Watch, which sold as a smartwatch and fitness tracker, was Apple’s first hardware product outside of its traditional markets.
Smartwatch market cooling
Although Apple doesn’t report its Apple Watch sales, worldwide smartwatch sales plunged in 3Q16, according to IDC, with Apple Watch being a major casualty.
Now, a rumor is going around that an Apple AR glass could debut in 2018 as the company works to expand its product portfolio to diversify revenue streams and break its overreliance on iPhones. As for AR, Apple’s move into the segment wouldn’t be a strange development. Not only does the company need to unlock new growth, but Apple executives, including chief Tim Cook, have recently talked positively about the future of AR.
However, in AR hardware business, Apple must not only brace itself for competition from Microsoft’s advanced HoloLens device but also disruption from Sony (SNE), Facebook (FB), and others eyeing the market.