There are a couple of key reasons I’m bullish on Apple and VR and a particular use case I think they can excel. When I say “bullish”, I mean they have some unique advantages which will make VR a better experience.
Environment is essential to habit change; we know rituals are precious to get you in state for the activity you want to begin.
As a copywriter, I love working in a virtual environment that encourages flow and focus.
On the Oculus, they have the environments, they don’t have the fidelity; it is just not sharp enough to do a compelling job.
Does it need to be Retina? Not right now. By way of comparison, It needs to be as good as the first iPhone compared to the smartphone of it’s era. Looking back now, it’s jaggy compared to our current phones, but it was a revolution back then. I know there are better visual systems but not for this cable-free format.
Meditation and mental health experiences can be compelling in these environments. Again, at this point, fidelity lets it down.
In the Oculus – you can see the potential of this – it does feel better and more fun, and the promise of whiteboarding, post-it notes and collaboration while standing in a brainstorming room will be unique. Fidelity (my word of the week) is an issue. The interface is too clunky and not intuitive at the moment.
Getting into the meeting is hard, being in the meeting is hard, and getting out of the meeting is hard.
I think Apple has some pretty mature technologies that can make this easier.
Then there is the use of a virtual keyboard and desktop (or maybe iPhone and iPad) – If they get this right – wow!
What can Apple do to elevate the VR experience? I think analysts have missed a couple of biggies.
What is the leap I’m looking for – It is the first iPhone experience. The first iPhone screen seems jaggie and primitive. In 2007, it was an order of magnitude leap compared to what was around at the time. Can Apple do this here, compared to existing untethered VR systems? It does not have to be photo-realistic, but good enough to work on big-screen virtual desktops and not take you out of virtual experiences.
What about audio?
One of Apple’s most underrated teams is its Audio team. The sound of every product Apple makes is class-leading – Just bringing their AirPods Pro / third-generation ear pods and spatial audio will improve the VR experience. Apple get’s the importance of sound. It’s going to be good.
This is huge one. One of the things that is super annoying when you are in VR is getting pinged on your phone. Apple can use the messenger infrastructure to make this experience seamless. I’m sure they have an engaging Factime VR experience – bring on the memoji.
If you can display and operate iPhone/iPad apps and they have a good interface, that would give them a considerable head start. This would be way more effective than apps on the mac desktop, which has not taken off.
A midway point would be having your iPhone and iPad having virtual screens in VR. You can still use them with the headset on, but instead of the headset running the app – it’s the iPhone or iPad. This tech has been advancing in the last couple of years. This would be amazing.
A ‘little thing’ which is a HUGE pain on the Oculus. Putting in passwords (in particular long secure ones, is a nightmare). Apple has solved this problem; they already have proximity-based Apple Watch password initiation. I expect Apple to nail this version one, which will remove enormous friction in setting up a new VR headset. Same deal with VR unique apps with sister apps on other Apple devices. This feature alone will be a massive advantage for non-tech users.
Companies have been trying to solve the issue of showing you a virtual keyboard – which is your actual keyboard on your laptop or desktop in VR. It’s still clunky – I think Apple’s ecosystem will solve this problem.
It’s particularly frustrating for non-touch typers (which I am, to my shame). I think they will have a much better solution, and they already have the tech working well between Mac/iPhone and iPad (Critics would argue – too well – when you accidentally mouse over to an iPad lying on the desk next to you by accident)
As I type this, Apple will reveal its headset tonight, and we will finally see what they have in mind. Seeing how many of the above are in generation one will be fun.
PS: The Price. Will they reveal it? Have they set-up the old IPad masterstroke (where they leaked the 1000-dollar price tag and bought the base level at $499)? Will $3000 be too expensive?
Here are my bets;
Price: Never bet against Apple being expensive. They will never aim to be the cheapest in a market. They price for a decent margin and deliver value. So I think $2999 is the go. This means…
Price Setup: The showman in me want’s to believe they are pulling a iPad here desperately, but Apple has never once sold a piece of hardware and aimed to make money on the backend (like, say the PlayStation or Xbox). So no, I do not think so. They needed to spend the money to make this the “iPhone” moment which was expensive. Which means…
Are they doomed because it’s too expensive: LOL, oh sweeties, that’s adorable. They will sell every-one they can make at $3000; They will sell every-one they can make at $5000. This is hilarious. The Apple ecosystem is enormous. They are the biggest company in the world. They become the number one hardware supplier in every category they have ever entered. [^1]
So here are some bonus-guaranteed things that will happen this week.
[^1] Yes, the iPhone is the Number 1 selling phone worldwide iphone rules, other phones drool