Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is working on Augmented Reality glasses. The release is “inevitable” according to some tech writers. Wall Street commentators are already trying to value the business, and there’s already people dreaming up app ideas.
The problem is, as with any Apple product rumor, that the firm is just unlikely to bring this tech to market. Over the last few years any number of revolutionary products from Cupertino have been floated. The only one it’s actually released, however, has been far from a roaring success.
It’s not that Apple is bad at what it does, it’s that expectations are high and the risk/reward ratio is tough to handle.
Are Apple Inc. iGlasses on the way?
While the name may seem perfectly appropriate, there’s likely more to Apple’s thinking than that. iGlasses would be, as Neil Cybart at Above Avalon suggests, part of a much broader augmented reality push from Apple.
The firm is including ARKit, a developer toolset for applications using AU tech, in its next iOS release. It’s clear that it thinks that software using image recognition, information overlays and the like are the next big thing in mobile apps. A set of AR glasses could make that kind of software much more useful.
If AR is going to kick off, that means less time holding our smartphones in front of our faces. Apple clearly wants to be part of AR, and it might even want to be part of the post-smartphone tech solution, but the company isn’t likely to drive in that direction too quickly.
Apple is after all a smartphone company. It probably doesn’t want to lead the industry away from that while it’s on top. There’s no doubt, though, that Apple experiments with many different technologies and putative products for both possible offensive market entry and defensive feature equalizing should competitors emerge with something new.
Even if Tim Cook’s R&D team is working on Apple Glasses, doesn’t mean the firm plans to sell it any time soon. If Facebook or Alphabet emerge with a competitor, however, something could emerge sooner rather than later.
Can Apple Glasses be sexy?
We know that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) succeeded in making the Apple Watch desirable, but doing the same thing with a headset could be tougher. If anyone can do it, however, it’s likely to be Jony Ive’s design team. He’s managed to capture the imagination of millions around the world with those designs over the years.
With the Apple Watch, they went back to its something like its long derided skeumorphic design philosophy. That means it retains the aesthetic design of something from the past despite it now being unnecessary.
For the Watch, Cupertino decided to completely ape popular designs. It wanted something that could directly replace the expensive timepiece. With Glasses, it may need to pull the same thing off.
Zac Hall from 9to5Mac, in imaging a successful headset, is looking for this. He thinks that in order to be popular smart glasses will have to emulate the style, and the multitude of options, of current glassware. Prescription lenses, he says, will be needed from day one.
That all seems broadly correct, but it doesn’t amount to changing the future of tech. What Hall described is a fine replacement for glasses. People are going to demand a whole lot more than that in an Apple product.
iPhone future is safe with the iGlasses
Even if Apple were to release a set of glasses, it’s not likely that they’d be able to replace the iPhone. The smart phone is such an important, stalwart part of people’s lives that it will take years to take out of rotation. This is exactly what was said about the laptop when the iPhone and iPad were released.
The honest answer here is that nobody knows how iGlasses will work. The best guess, however, is that they will be linked with the iPhone in your pocket. At least in the early years you won’t be free of your smartphone. This is exactly the policy that Google followed with its Glass project.
If the product is successful, however, that likely means less and less time spent on the phone. The conversion to AR is going to be painful for app makers, and the firms out in front could capture a tech wave that seemed impossible after Google Glass’ bellyflop.
Fear of losing out has attracted a multitude into the AR area. All of the big tech concerns from Facebook to Snapchat are throwing money at the problem. All seem to be working on both hardware and software just like Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL).
Apple stock isn’t really about tech
Apple develops a whole lot of technology, but Wall Street doesn’t treat it like a tech stock. That’s because it acts a whole lot more like a consumer discretionary firm than the companies, like Google, that it is normally compared to. This isn’t a hard concept to understand, but a lot of investors get carried away by tech rumors.
Don’t try to value Apple based on a television or a car. Certainly don’t make up demand models for a pair of glasses that aren’t even close to release. That’s not the kind of business Apple is in. It sells smartphones across the globe. Whatever it’s working on in labs behind the scenes is incidental.
In a report published on Thursday Laura Martin of Needham outlined the level-headed case for Apple stock. In her view, Apple is a smartphone seller with competitive advantages in that industry. As she expects the over all global phone market to grow, she reckons both revenue and earnings will jump at Apple too.
If the firm does announce something to do with AR glasses, that might move the stock. Given recent product launches, however, Wall Street is likely to be pretty skeptical. That’s not to say that iGlasses can’t be successful.
Rather it means that Apple stock is very unlikely to move on the development any time soon. As well as that, there is a high probability that the product will never make it to market at all.
If you want to bet on Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), it’s much safer to do so because it makes a great consumer product, not because it might change the electronic world again 3 years down the line.