When Zuckerberg shared his views on Metaverse on Facebook, he said that he did not want it to be a “walled garden” but a larger open ecosystem. This is Zuckerberg’s subtle irony of Apple and its closed ecosystem. In fact, behind American technology companies such as Microsoft, Meta, and Nvidia desperately competing for the meta-universe, they are actually creating their own “Apple Store” in their name.
Recently, the news of Apple’s plan to launch AR glasses next year really excited the industry for a while, but Cook’s ambiguous attitude towards Meta Universe’s “speaking but ashamed” has suddenly extinguished people’s enthusiasm and expectations-Meta Universe “Go” The characteristics of “centralization” are incompatible with Apple’s closed ecology. However, there is still huge room for imagination in the meta universe for Apple. If Apple replaces the iPhone with AR in the next ten years, considering that there are over 1 billion iPhone users, this means that Apple will sell 1 billion AR devices in the next ten years. AR is hailed as the entrance to the meta universe. Even if Cook deliberately alienates himself, the meta universe will still come…
Apple is waiting for the accumulation of the meta universe?
Since Zuckerberg proposed the meta-universe strategy and renamed Facebook to Meta, various companies have caught up with the popularity of meta-universe and their stock prices have skyrocketed. Unlike most companies, Apple keeps away from the term “meta universe.”
“I will stay away from popular words.” Apple’s current CEO Cook said to Meta Universe in an interview, “We just call it augmented reality.”
Weng Dongdong, a professor at the School of Optoelectronics, Beijing Institute of Technology and deputy director of the Key Laboratory of Immersive Interactive Animation Culture and Ministry of Tourism, told the reporter of “China Electronics News” that Cook’s rejection of Meta universe may come from his hostility to rival Meta. Ma Tianyi, the chief analyst of Minsheng Securities Communications and Yuan Universe, also expressed the same view in an interview with China Electronics News. Apple’s global sales of mobile phones and other hardware products are still far ahead. Compared with Facebook, it has encountered a traffic growth bottleneck. Apple does not need to undertake such a major strategic transformation.
Another industry voice believes that Cook is setting smoke bombs to reject the meta-universe. Metaverse, Apple may be late, but will not be absent. Ma Tianhao speculated, “It is not ruled out that Apple is waiting for an opportunity (in the field of meta-universe) to accumulate and develop.”
“Accumulate thin hair” may have been branded in Apple’s DNA. Take the iPhone, which has changed the entire development process of smartphones, as an example. The birth of the iPhone has gone through several twists and turns. It can be traced back to office touch-screen phones in the 1980s and Nirvana in the smart phone project code-named “Purple No. 2”. Since Jobs released the iPhone 2G on January 9, 2007, the iPhone has only been upgraded from generation to generation.
The most memorable thing is that an unverified episode was mentioned in an article deciphering the iPhone development process. In early 2004, when a reporter asked Jobs “whether Apple has a plan to launch its own mobile phone”, Jobs’ answer was ” No.” Before the moment they announced their entry into the meta-universe, Apple and Cook could only “keep away” from it.
Apple’s meta universe may be pan-entertainment
Compared to the iPhone, Apple has also been preparing for AR headsets for more than ten years. According to public data, since 2010, Apple has applied for more than 2,000 AR/VR-related patents; Apple has invested or acquired more than 20 AR/VR business-related companies in the fields of bionic chips, ultra-wideband chips, sensors, and Micro LEDs. Fields such as screens, light-guided waves, and space sound field technologies that can be tracked and positioned. For VR/AR, Apple obviously has a lot of accumulation, and it has already foreshadowed it.
“Although the pigs on the tuyere can fly, Apple is likely to be blamed for not flying high enough.” GfK senior analyst Hou Lin said in an interview with China Electronics News. Ma Tianyi believes: “Apple may not want to express its intention when the new technology is not fully mature, because the blind pursuit of concepts weakens the overall experience of users on its products.”
In addition, Apple is very concerned about the potential impact of a product failure on the company’s stock price. “As a listed company, if Apple’s feedback on a new product is poor after it goes public, the impact on the stock price may need to be offset by 2-3 normal products.” Hou Lin said.
Obviously, the industry has more expectations and stricter standards for Apple, which has also delayed Apple’s ambiguous attitude towards Metaverse. However, it is this attitude of “rejecting but welcoming” that makes people more and more curious-what kind of meta-universe will Apple create? After all, with the help of the ecology formed by AR glasses and mobile phones, Apple has accumulated enough capital to enter the meta universe. Apple’s AR headset will focus on games, media consumption and communication. This has a high degree of overlap with the vision of the meta universe.
Experts speculate that Apple’s meta universe is pan-entertainment and can be used by users every day. “Like the iPhone and Apple Watch, Apple wants to make AR headsets a consumer electronic product that people use every day.” Weng Dongdong believes that Apple will launch several more practical applications when it releases AR headsets. , To increase the connection between products and users, such as AR navigation, immersive film and television and other mature applications.
AR space, allowing users to use lidar scanners to record and send videos with magical special effects
“Whether it is Metaverse or VR, games are a topic that cannot be avoided.” Hou Lin said that if Metaverse is created, games are a topic that Apple cannot avoid. He introduced that in 2019, Apple launched a more Apple Arcade service (game subscription service) on the basis of the App Store. Although the service has been tepid after its launch, Apple has continued to invest. It may be a strong force for the launch of AR headsets. Scenes.
According to reports, Apple Arcade users can play all of the games after paying the subscription fee without having to purchase them separately. In addition, all games can be run offline, and game progress can also be synchronized across devices. This service will become an important factor in attracting users to frequently use AR headsets.
In addition, 3D avatars, AR/VR version of Face Time chat calls may become important applications of Apple’s future meta-universe.
“Decentralized” meta-universe makes Apple very contradictory
Under the trend of meta-universe, the trend of technology giants uniting has begun to appear. Meta not only reached a cooperation with Microsoft to open up mutual access permissions for enterprise-level software content, but also reached a cooperation with AWS (Amazon Cloud Technology), which will develop a series of cooperation in computing, storage, database and security services based on cloud computing. Experts predict that Meta is likely to cooperate with more peers on the way to build the meta-universe.
Compared with the open Meta and Microsoft, the “self-closing” Apple obviously has some incompatibility. “Closed loop ecology” is Apple’s biggest feature and advantage. The iOS, macOS, watchOS and other operating systems developed and built by Apple for different hardware devices are independent and linked to each other. The closed ecology provides Apple with a smoother and smarter user experience, such as airdropping, cross-device copying and pasting, etc.; the closed ecology is also Apple’s core asset, which provides a safer system environment, such as infecting Apple mobile phone hardware The probability of the virus is more than ten times lower than that of the Android system; more importantly, Apple has also received a more generous “Apple tax” than Android.
In recent days, Cook has also responded very tough in the face of pressure from “The European Union requires Apple to open download permissions for third-party applications”-“The most convenient way is for users to change to an Android phone.”
Obviously, Apple is very firm about the closed ecology. Unless Apple itself “wants to open”, it is difficult to have external forces to pry open Apple’s ecology. Compared with the meta-universe’s “decentralized and open” characteristics, Apple clearly has “disharmony” with it. Experts speculate that this may also be the reason why Cook has not expressed his opinion on whether Apple has entered the meta-universe.
“At present, Metaverse and Apple’s business model are contradictory,” Ma Tianyi pointed out. The compatibility of the ecological chain is still unknown.”
However, some industry experts pointed out that it is still too early for Metaverse to talk about the issue of “decentralization and openness” at this stage. In Ma Tianyi’s view, it is difficult to realize the completely open and decentralized characteristics of Metaverse. The current competitive situation among technology giants determines that its ecology is still relatively closed. Secondly, the closed ecosystem of the manufacturer as a whole can provide part of the functions of the meta-universe world. This is obviously good news for a closed ecosystem hardware manufacturer like Apple. Another industry expert also expressed the same view, “The current closed ecosystem of Apple will instead become a plus point for improving the AR headset application experience. The question of whether to open the interface may have to wait until the next CEO to decide.”
Apple’s AR device may encounter “high music and few”
“The development of science and technology is inseparable from an open and shared ecology.” Yuan Yu, a senior analyst at CCID Consulting’s Electronic Information Industry Research Center, told the reporter of China Electronics News that if Apple sticks to the “linear improvement of product performance + brand premium” model, it will be due to closed doors. Relying too much on accidental factors may be marginalized by the open and open source ecosystem in the future. For example, Yuan Yu said, “In recent years, Apple TV, HomePod and other products are typical products by the edge, and they have become more and more distant from global mainstream products.”
Take the smart speaker product HomePod released in 2017 as an example. Although Apple has never officially disclosed the sales of HomePod, according to third-party CIRP statistics, HomePod’s market share in the United States in the third quarter of 2019 was only about 5%. And Amazon’s Echo occupies 70%.
“Compared to domestic smartphones, iPhone has a brand premium of 45%-55%, excluding the cost of BOM materials, which brings huge profits to Apple.” Yuan Yu judges that it is difficult for Apple to open up the ecosystem and interfaces for AR headsets or Metaverse. . “From the current point of view, Apple’s AR glasses will continue the existing style and form a self-contained system to maintain Apple’s brand premium.” Yuan Yu said.
Today, many conditions for Apple’s entry into AR/VR are very similar to those when it entered into smart speakers. In 2017, the international market of smart speakers was almost divided by Google Home and Amazon Echo; the Chinese market was occupied by many brands such as Xiaoai, Xiaodu Speaker, Tmall Elf and so on. Apple HomePod entered the market at a price of US$349 (later adjusted to US$299). HomePod’s market share has been hovering around 5%, and the strong Apple ecosystem cannot drive HomePod.
This time, Apple’s AR headset is also one step late. Internationally, the VR headset market Meta Quest occupies two-thirds of the market share (IDC data); Microsoft occupies the first place in MR/AR with a 28.8% market share. Domestically, companies such as HTC, Pico, Dapeng, Nolo and iQiyi carve up most of the market.
According to media reports, the price of Apple’s upcoming AR headset is as high as US$1,000, while Oculus Quest2 is priced at US$299. The domestic mainstream VR headset is priced at less than 3,000 yuan (US$470). Will high-priced AR headsets be as high and low as the HomePod, or can they replicate the success of the iPhone?
Full of expectations for what kind of meta universe Apple will launch
During the interview, the reporter found that, whether it is experts, scholars, upstream and downstream companies in the industry chain, or industry analysts, there are few bad actors on the news of “Apple is about to launch AR hardware”. full of expectation.
Five years have passed since the first year of VR in 2016, and neither HTC, Sony, or Oculus have made VR/AR a best-selling consumer electronics product. The data will not lie, the global shipments of VR headsets in 2020 will be 5 million units, while the global smartphone market shipments will be 1.292 billion units in the same period (IDC data). Take the brand as an example. In the fourth quarter of 2021, the global shipments of Xiaomi, vivo, and OPPO were 44.3 million units, 33.3 million units, and 33.2 million units respectively. Oculus Quest 2, known as a phenomenon-level product, has accumulated since its release in 2020. Sales just exceeded 10 million units.
The industry expects Apple to launch VR/AR products. The reason is that Apple’s entry will bring more media exposure and traffic. Apple’s entry is bound to accelerate the progress of upstream and downstream industrial devices, and the volume of the industry may grow exponentially. , Usage scenarios and business models may appear a new round of enrichment.
“After Apple launches AR glasses next year, I expect global AR equipment shipments to reach tens of millions. Many brands may be expected to become Samsung, Xiaomi, vivo and OPPO in the AR/VR industry.” A VR hardware manufacturer who did not want to be named The executive told reporters. In terms of objective conditions, Apple’s rich hardware matrix and software ecology also contribute to the success of AR hardware.
Li Zuxi, head of the Yuan Universe Laboratory of Tsinghua University, told the reporter of China Electronics News that mobile phones and AR/VR hardware are not an absolute substitute. At present, mobile phones are production tools with higher work efficiency and wider application scenarios . The interface hardware of the universe (such as VR/AR headset) may form a complementary symbiotic relationship. Based on Apple’s leading position in the mobile phone track, the AR headsets supported by the iPhone also have the potential to skyrocket.
Ma Tianhao predicts that Apple’s closed-loop ecology will also bring benefits to the upcoming AR headsets-the ecological closed-loop has the advantages of high security and smoothness, and is also crucial in the development of Metaverse. For example, Siri, which Apple has accumulated over many years of voice recognition technology, can help AR perform voice recognition and control. Apple watch assisted touch can help with AR interaction, for example, only a few gestures can control the watch and realize the connection of mobile phone/watch/AR glasses.
In addition, Apple has successively laid out ARKit and AppClip, enriching the AR software ecosystem, and now the construction is beginning to take shape. According to Apple’s official data, Apple currently has “the world’s largest AR platform, with hundreds of millions of AR-enabled devices, and the AppStore. Thousands of AR applications.”
“This is a track with bright prospects. Just like the smartphone track in 2007, many industrial chains are in urgent need of improvement and enrichment, and a giant like Apple needs to lead the development.” Weng Dongdong told the “China Electronics News” reporter that at present People’s interest in the concept of meta universe is unprecedentedly high. Brands like Apple have their own IP halo, which is likely to sell better than the first-generation iPhone.
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