Mass production of Apple’s rumored AR/VR headset may have been pushed back to the end of 2022

There are some devices and features still swirling in the rumor mill that Apple has yet to actually announce. While we can officially strike out “a MacBook with a notch,” we are still waiting for things like Apple’s big push into augmented reality and/or virtual reality hardware. The company laid the groundwork with ARKit years ago, and, ever since, there has been an expectation that a headset is soon to follow. But, as the wait continues, legendary analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has some bad news for the hopefuls out there.

As reported this week by MacRumors, Kuo is back with another investor’s note, and this one’s all about Apple’s plans for its upcoming AR/VR headset. According to the analyst, Apple isn’t planning on entering mass production of its upcoming headset until the fourth quarter of 2022. If that is indeed the case, it means Apple could get the headset out there into the wild sometime before the end of the holiday shopping period for that year. It’s also possible the headset might not see the light of day until early 2023, either.

Kuo’s note suggests Apple’s initial plan was to kickstart mass production of the headset in the third quarter of next year. However, in its search for “complete software, ecosystem, and services,” the delay to later in the year may be necessary. Kuo goes on to say that Apple has the “best industrial design solutions” for the headset, with the company focusing a lot of attention on overall comfort while using the headset. However, Kuo also says Apple is potentially putting itself in a pickle as the company aims to go beyond just games on its AR/VR headset and software.

From the investor’s note:

The AR/MR HMD requires much more industrial design requirements than smartphones because the comfort of wearing them involves so many design details. Therefore, we believe Apple continues to test the best industrial design solutions so far.

The key to the success of the HMD lies in the software, ecosystem, and service. We believe that Apple is positioning its HMD for various applications, not just gaming applications, so the challenge of building software/ecosystem/services is significantly higher than current products/competitors.

Kuo also believes it will be Apple that will ultimately change the AR/VR headset market in a big way. As it stands right now, it’s primarily all about gaming. But Kuo expects Apple will change the view for many potential owners, as the company is “the most capable of developing and promoting diverse applications.” To that end, and based on this investor’s note, it certainly sounds like Apple is trying to lock down as wide an experience as one can get from an AR/VR headset, with aspirations to get as many people interested in the hardware as possible. It doesn’t sound like Apple’s going to launch a niche headset.

It was rumored earlier this year that Apple could announce the mixed-reality headset sometime before the end of this year. However, with the company’s “Unleashed” event expected to be the last one of 2022, that doesn’t seem likely. And with this note from Kuo, it sounds like we shouldn’t expect to see or hear anything official from Apple about this headset for at least a year. Probably. But that doesn’t mean Apple isn’t making some moves to support that future device.

Apple announced the brand new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models at that aforementioned event. And, at the same time, revealed the M1 Pro and M1 Max processors, brand new powerhouse chips that are specifically designed for professionals to get things done. That hardware could very well be Apple making sure that developers have plenty of power to not only design apps for the future AR/VR headset, but also test the hardware on those machines as well. Future-proofing, perhaps.

We’ll have to wait and see how it all shakes out. Either way, are you looking forward to Apple finally announcing an AR/VR headset?