Report: Apple CEO Tim Cook Ordered Headset Launch Despite Designers Wanting to Wait for AR Glasses

Apple CEO Tim Cook sided with operations chief Jeff Williams in pushing to launch a first-generation mixed-reality headset device this year, against the wishes of the company's design team, the Financial Times reports.

apple mixed reality headset concept by david lewis and marcus kaneApple headset concept by David Lewis and Marcus Kane

The timing of the mixed-reality headset's launch has apparently been a cause of considerable contention at Apple. The company's industrial design team cautioned that devices in the category were not yet ready for launch and wanted to delay until a lightweight AR glasses product had matured several years later. On the other hand, Apple's operations team wanted to ship an early version of the product in the form of a VR-focused ski goggle-like headset that allows users to watch 3D videos, perform interactive workouts, or make FaceTime calls with virtual avatars.

‌Tim Cook‌, who served as Apple's operations chief prior to becoming CEO, reportedly sided with Jeff Williams, overruling objections from Apple's designers and pressing for an early launch with a more limited product. Speaking to the Financial Times, former Apple engineers who worked on the device described the "huge pressure to ship."

Upon the departure of design chief Jony Ive in 2019, Apple's design team now reports directly to Williams. While design led the direction of Apple's products under Steve Jobs, employees have noticed that operations is increasingly taking control over product development under Cook's leadership. One former engineer said that the best part of working at Apple was devising engineering solutions to meet the "insane requirements" of the design team, but that has apparently changed in recent years.

Apple's headset has reportedly been in active development for seven years, twice as long as the original iPhone prior to its launch. The device is seen as being tied directly to ‌Tim Cook‌'s legacy, as Apple's first new computing platform developed entirely under his leadership.

The company is still expecting to sell only around a million units of the headset during its first year on sale at a ~$3,000 price point. Nevertheless, Apple is purportedly preparing a "marketing blitz" for the product later this year.

Update: The headline on this article has been updated to clarify that Apple's designers reportedly preferred to wait for technology to advance sufficiently to release slimmer AR glasses rather than a bulkier headset, not that the headset itself is being released prematurely.

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Top Rated Comments

Wanted797 Avatar
16 months ago
I’ll just leave this here

Score: 196 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Bogstandard Avatar
16 months ago
Imo, this is why Apples' products seem to be more bug ridden.
Politics... Apple management is becoming disconnected from the engineering teams.
Now there's 40 million more reasons to get the stuff to market asap, lol.
Score: 66 Votes (Like | Disagree)
d686546s Avatar
16 months ago
I'm prepared to eat my hat if I'm wrong and plenty of people thought the smartphone in general was a product nobody needed, but I just don't see a clear use case for a product like this -- at least not from Apple and not in the consumer space.


* Immersive gaming is probably a big one, but Apple has never been a gaming platform for these kinds of games.
* Everyday AR might be neat, but not with ski goggles.
* Immersive FaceTime with long-distance partners, family or friends I can see, but the price will be too steep just for that.

That leaves all sorts of business and professional use cases. Frankly I don't know enough about that so I'm not going to make stuff up, but there does not appear to be great traction for others already in the market.

So who is this product really for?
Score: 56 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DMG35 Avatar
16 months ago
Sounds like this is going to be an ultra smooth launch with little to no bugs...
Score: 52 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dumastudetto Avatar
16 months ago

Everyone and their dog has already guessed that that this VR carp Apple, Meta, Google and everyone else is pushing will go 3D TV way very soon and might have limited uses under limited scenarios. A Dystopian reality like Steven Speilberg’s “Ready Player One” looks practical on TV screens and Cinema Halls only.
We shouldn't judge this until Apple enters the space.

Apple has completely changed the game almost every time they enter a new product category with a perfectly refined device and cohesive user experience.
Score: 35 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dumastudetto Avatar
16 months ago
I trust Apple to make all the right decisions about when the time is right to ship new products.

They've clearly invested a huge amount of time and money into this exciting new product, and I can't wait to place my pre-order for day one arrival.

We mustn't undermine Apple or the products it is working to bring us.
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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