Tim Cook Bets on Apple’s Mixed-Reality Headset To Secure His Legacy
Apple’s growth during Cook’s tenure has been spectacular, growing its market capitalisation from around $350bn in 2011 to around $2.4tn today. But despite the twin hit launches of Apple Watch in 2015 and AirPods a year later, which have helped turn its accessories division into a $41bn business, the company has been accused of iterating on past ideas rather than breaking new ground. “They have huge pressure to ship” the headset, said a former Apple engineer who worked on the product’s development. “They have been postponing the launch each year for the past [few] years.” The timing of the launch has been a source of tension since the project began in early 2016, according to multiple people familiar with Apple’s internal discussions. Apple’s operations team wanted to ship a “version one” product, a ski goggle-like headset that will allow users to watch immersive 3D video, perform interactive workouts or chat with realistic avatars through a revamped FaceTime. But Apple’s famed industrial design team had cautioned patience, wanting to delay until a more lightweight version of AR glasses became technically feasible. Most in the tech industry expect that to take several more years. In deciding to press ahead with a debut this year, Cook has sided with operations chief Jeff Williams, according to two people familiar with Apple’s decision-making, and overruled the early objections from Apple’s designers to wait for the tech to catch up with their vision.
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