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Future titans of the Metaverse: Part 4

In this ongoing series we explore the past, present and potential future of the largest players in the Metaverse. Today, we’re taking a look at Apple.


Like Microsoft, Apple has been around a lot longer than relative new kids on the block Google and Meta (formerly Facebook). Apple’s history is well documented. The American multinational technology company was founded on the 1st of April 1976 by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne. The company’s Apple II personal computer was a bestseller, but a subsequent drop in sales and rising internal tensions led to Jobs being ousted in 1985. In 1997, after years of decline, losses piling up and market share plummeting, Jobs was back in charge. The iMac, the iPod, iTunes, the iPhone and the iPad follow and Apple becomes the most valuable brand in the world, valued at over $1 trillion in 2018, $2 trillion in 2020, and $3 trillion in 2022.


Apple’s forays into the Metaverse to date have been muted. When asked about the Metaverse in an earnings call back in January of this year, Apple CEO Tim Cook responded by saying he saw “a lot of potential”, without actually using the word “Metaverse”. Instead, he talked about how Apple was “company in the business of innovation”, and highlighted the number of augmented reality (AR) applications that we available on Apple’s App Store (“over 14,000”).


This shouldn’t come as a surprise considering Apple has long been bullish on augmented reality (AR), with Cook previously calling AR “critically important” and referring to himself “AR’s fan number one.” Most recently however, Apple’s name was conspicuously absent, alongside another future titan of the Metaverse, Google, from recently announced Metaverse Standards Forum, whose notable members include both Meta and Microsoft. It should be noted that Apple and Meta haven’t been on the best of terms of late, having previously clashed over Meta’s plans to monetisation its Horizon Worlds Metaverse.


So where does themetabite.com see Apple in the Metaverse? We see Apple playing where Apple plays best, deploying innovative, premium hardware products into existing, established markets. What does this mean in practise? First of all this means an innovative, premium virtual reality (VR) / AR headset or smart glasses that will allow people to explore the Metaverse in ways that they never have before. Meta’s Quest 2 headset has proven that there’s a recreational market for VR headsets. According to market research carried out in March of this year, Meta’s Quest 2 sold 8.7 million units in 2021, almost double the sold in the previous year. The same research also shows the Quest 2 dominating the headset market, with a share of 78%. So, who’s going to provide the competition? Back in May of this year we looked into the rumours surrounding a potential Apple headset. Now, as then, we see this as the perfect entry point for Apple that will provides an additional sales channel for its existing and new AR content.


But Apple also has an ace up its sleeve, the iPhone. As previously noted at themetabite.com, a persistent, hyper-realistic, immersive, virtual world will require significant improvements in latency, symmetrical bandwidth and network speeds. In a December 2021 opinion piece titled “Powering the Metaverse”, senior vice president and head of Intel's Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics, Raja Koduri posited that “Truly persistent and immersive computing, at scale and accessible by billions of humans in real time” will require “a 1,000-times increase in computational efficiency from today’s state of the art.”


One of the things that would help to achieve this would be a powerful connectivity and computing device that you can carry around with you, basically a data centre, or Internet Exchange Point, that fits in your pocket. Anything spring to mind?


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Laurenz Heymann/Unsplash

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