Apple VR Headset Rumors: “Metaverse” & Closed Ecosystem 

Rumors continue to swirl around Apple’s expected entry into the mixed-reality space, with the latest suggesting an Apple VR headset with a walled-off ecosystem and metaverse-like features. A potential Apple VR debut is unlikely to shake up the gaming industry, but it’s still worth noting given Apple’s reputation.

The Latest Scuttlebutt
The headset is expected to feature Apple’s M2 chipset – which powers its notebooks & tablets – and a top-of-the-line display. The latest report from longtime Apple reporter Mark Gurman suggests Apple will go back to its favorite well and build a walled garden experience.

  • Several job listings for Apple’s Technology Development Group
    • A development position to “build tools and frameworks to enable connected experiences in 3D mixed-reality world” – aka the Metaverse
    • A software producer to create digital content for AR/VR Potential plans for an Apple 3D video service
  • Integration with Apple features such as Siri
The Good
An Apple VR headset should blow competing VR headsets – such as PlayStation's $549 VR 2 and even Meta’s latest $1,499 Quest Pro – out of the water on raw performance. Apple’s M1 and M2 chips also have a reputation for excellent power efficiency, a potential boon when you consider the Quest Pro can barely manage two hours of use without recharging.

The Bad
The VR space is still in its infancy, with a format (operating system and app stores) war likely in its future. Apple – and its legions of diehard fans – will argue that the company’s closed ecosystem offers advantages to developers. But if the advent of crossplay and the legal drama between Epic Games and Apple has proved anything, it's that separating player bases is a pain for both developers and gamers. 

  • Apple is likely to have an excellent VR title or two sooner than later, but it’s worth noting that game development on Apple silicon, even with improvements to Metal API, is more difficult
The Ugly
Apple appears to have seen the Meta Quest Pro’s obscene price and decided "those are rookie numbers." Even the most devout Apple fans will find a $2,000+ VR headset a tough pill to swallow. At the end of the day, much like Meta’s Quest Pro, an Apple VR headset is likely to be a dev kit in all but name. The VR product worth watching will be whatever more consumer-friendly, perhaps gaming-focused VR headset successor Apple launches in a couple years. 
Featured image: Concept render based on purported leaked information by Ian Zelbo