When Tim Cook unveils Apple’s new “mixed-reality” headset later this year, he won’t just be showing off the tech giant’s latest shiny gadget. From a report: The Apple chief will also be guaranteeing his legacy includes the launch of a next-generation hardware product that some inside the company believe might one day rival the iPhone. After seven years in development — twice as long as the iPhone — the tech giant is widely expected to unveil a headset featuring both virtual and augmented reality as soon as June. The stakes are high for Cook. The headset will be Apple’s first new computing platform to have been developed entirely under his leadership. The iPhone, iPad and even Watch were all originally conceived under Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs, who died in 2011.
Apple’s growth during Cook’s tenure has been spectacular, growing its market capitalisation from around $350bn in 2011 to around $2.4tn today. But despite the twin hit launches of Apple Watch in 2015 and AirPods a year later, which have helped turn its accessories division into a $41bn business, the company has been accused of iterating on past ideas rather than breaking new ground. “They have huge pressure to ship” the headset, said a former Apple engineer who worked on the product’s development. “They have been postponing the launch each year for the past [few] years.” The timing of the launch has been a source of tension since the project began in early 2016, according to multiple people familiar with Apple’s internal discussions. Apple’s operations team wanted to ship a “version one” product, a ski goggle-like headset that will allow users to watch immersive 3D video, perform interactive workouts or chat with realistic avatars through a revamped FaceTime. But Apple’s famed industrial design team had cautioned patience, wanting to delay until a more lightweight version of AR glasses became technically feasible. Most in the tech industry expect that to take several more years. In deciding to press ahead with a debut this year, Cook has sided with operations chief Jeff Williams, according to two people familiar with Apple’s decision-making, and overruled the early objections from Apple’s designers to wait for the tech to catch up with their vision.