Next month, Apple is expected to finally show off its extremely expensive $3,000 mixed-reality headset to the world.
Yet the device, which "resembles a pair of ski goggles and requires a separate battery pack," according to Bloomberg columnist and Apple expert Mark Gurman, couldn't be coming at a worse time. Interest in virtual reality headsets and the metaverse has waned significantly, with appetite among hype-generating teens in particular bottoming out this year.
Especially at its rumored price point, the device will likely be a tough sell. Worse yet, an internal presentation suggested that "people will wear the headsets to parties in the physical world, interacting with people through the external devices," according to Bloomberg.
Needless to say, wearing a pair of oversized goggles attached to a chunky battery pack doesn't exactly sound like a compelling reason to dish out $3,000 — and even for those to do, it sounds more of a source of embarrassment than a status symbol at soirées.
The stakes are incredibly high, with former Apple marketing executive Michael Gartenberg telling Bloomberg that the device could end up being "one of the great tech flops of all time."
"I suspect there’s a lot of internal pressure for the next big thing," he added.
The company has been working on the device since at least 2015, with more than 1,000 engineers working on the project, costing Apple more than $1 billion each year.
According to one of Gurman's sources, engineers on the project have joked that they were working on the project just to keep CEO Tim Cook happy.
Execs have clearly struggled to come up with a suitable use case for the device. And Apple reportedly had to make a lot of compromises after initially hoping to shrink the technology down into a sleek fashion accessory.
Previous leaks have also suggested it will have an outward-facing display to mimic the facial expressions of its wearer, an intriguing design decision that may differentiate the product from competing offerings — but could make for an even more awkward experience at social gatherings.
In short, while we still have plenty to learn about what Apple's device can actually do, what we've heard so far doesn't exactly instill confidence — especially when it comes to wearing reality-augmenting tech at parties.
As Google proved with its Google Glasses, wearables designed for social settings are an incredibly difficult sell. It's a resource-hogging investment that could easily backfire on the company.
More on the device: Apple VR Headset Will Apparently Have Display Facing Outward