CEO Tim Cook called VR and augmented reality “profound technology” with “revolutionary” potential during the company’s . He said the product followed in the illustrious lineage of the company’s Mac personal computer line and the iPhone. It is the first major new device launch by the company since the Apple Watch nine years ago.
The company said its “spacial computing” system relies on a fluid interface that picks up on signals and movements from a user’s eyes and hands as well as Siri voice recognition. Those options differ from many existing VR setups, which require the use of physical controllers along with headsets.
In anticipation of the events onstage, Apple stock hit an all-time high, gaining 2% to just shy of $185 before pulling back in mid-day trading. Shares have risen almost 40% in 2023 to date, several times the increase of the benchmark S&P 500.
While Sony and a division of ByteDance have mounted serious efforts in VR hardware, Meta Platforms has made the highest-profile bet on the emerging sector. It renamed the company from Facebook to reflect its new strategic focus and has pumped billions of dollars into its Reality Labs unit.
Despite all of the investment, VR and the metaverse have not been unanimously proclaimed as the life-changing evolutionary stage that its boosters see it as. Total sales of headsets in 2022 dropped 21% from 2021, totaling 8.8 million, and fell by more than half in down 20.9% from 2021. In the first quarter of 2023, sales more than halved
While the headset stole the show, Apple revealed a wide range of offerings, from new laptops and AirPods to iOS updates. FaceTime figured prominently, with updates to Apple TV and iOS enabling users to use it on a big screen and leave video voicemail messages.