Apple's AR/VR Headset Could Come With a Monthly Subscription Service

Apple's long-rumored augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) headset could come with a monthly subscription service, according to a report from TrendForce.

apple ar headset concept 1Concept render based on purported leaked information by Ian Zelbo

In a report forecasting the growing sales of AR and VR devices from major tech companies in 2022, TrendForce said that Apple's headset will likely be consumer-oriented with similar pricing to Microsoft's HoloLens, which starts at $3,500. Crucially, TrendForce suggests that Apple could offer its headset with a monthly subscription for a software service. The report states (with emphasis our own):

Strong shipments of Oculus and Microsoft products will likely force Apple to release relevant products to join the competition this year. However, TrendForce states, considering hardware performance requirements and gross profit margins, Apple will likely target the commercial market and adopt the same pricing strategy as HoloLens, hardware priced in the thousands of dollars and a monthly subscription-based software solution. Overall, TrendForce believes that the launch of new products this year by Apple, Meta, and Sony may be delayed and will not add significant growth to the overall AR/VR market for the time being.

This is the first time Apple's headset has been explicitly rumored to be accompanied by a subscription service, but it seems likely that the device will at least integrate with some of the services included in the Apple One bundles, such as Apple Music.

It is unclear what a headset-specific software service could offer, given that the three rumored key features of the device, gaming, media consumption, and communication, are already offered by the likes of Apple Arcade, Apple TV+ and ‌Apple Music‌, and FaceTime.

The software Apple's headset will run has been the source of much discussion, including how ‌FaceTime‌ is expected to rely on Memojis and SharePlay and the relevance of the company's insightful patents. The headset itself is rumored to run "rOS" or "realityOS," internally codenamed "Oak." Apple's work on realityOS has been rumored since 2017, but the existence of the operating system was recently confirmed when references to it were found in App Store upload logs and Apple open source code.

Despite enthusiasm over Apple's AR and VR project finally "approaching liftoff" for launch this year, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman believes that the launch of the headset will likely be delayed until 2023. For more information, see our detailed roundup.

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