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Apple CEO Questions Metaverse Revolution, Talks Up AR

Photo by Laurenz Heymann / Unsplash

Apple CEO Tim Cook isn’t sold on the metaverse. The executive recently sat down to discuss the future of technology with Dutch media outlet Bright, during which he expressed doubt that “the average person can tell you what the metaverse is.”

According to Cook, the next big technological revolution will be Augmented Reality (AR) applications, which he called “a profound technology that will affect everything.”

Setting aside the question of whether people know what the metaverse is – should Cook’s comments be taken at face value? Or should we expect the Apple boss to talk down a technology that is now the key focus of Apple’s rival Meta, formerly Facebook?

Cook Kicks Up a Storm

Interestingly, the same criticism Cook levelled at the metaverse could also be made about AR. If you were to survey 100 strangers at random and ask them to define Augmented Reality, you’ll encounter more than a few puzzled faces.

In the wake of the interview, much was made about Cook’s comments, particularly his view that people won’t want to live their whole life in VR. To be sure, even VR/metaverse absolutists don’t suggest that you should be plugged into virtual environments 24/7, at the expense of your everyday life. Instead, the metaverse should be viewed as a complement: a place where you can work, socialise and game – but not every waking hour.

Whatever Cook’s view on the metaverse, Apple is rumored to be readying for the launch of its first mixed reality headset, which will support both AR and VR technology. It’s difficult to view such a high-end headset as anything other than a direct rival to Meta’s devices, including its Quest Pro. Cook is unlikely to quibble if Apple customers use such a headset to enter metaverses such as Alien Worlds or Decentraland. But if they do, can we expect Apple to create its own metaverse in the future?

At heart, Apple is a software company: its bread and butter are devices like the iPhone and MacBook. As we move into a brave new world of virtual avatars, 3D sensing modules, facial expression detection etc, we should expect Apple to position itself for the future. Which will mean not just one metaverse-ready headset but a continual flow of them rolling off the Cupertino production line.