Cher Wang, chairperson, co-founder and CEO of HTC, speaks as a keynote speaker on the second day of Mobile World Congress 2023.
Joanne Croce | NurPhoto | NurPhoto via Getty Images
Barcelona – Boss of consumer electronics firm HTC thinking Apple is about to launch its own mixed reality headset, but the competition isn’t worried.
Speaking with CNBC at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, HTC CEO and co-founder Cher Wang said the Cupertino tech giant is likely to launch a mixed reality, or XR, product “very soon” — potentially this year. as the year. XR refers to technologies that merge the physical and digital worlds.
“I think as soon as [release date] May be in the middle or later this year,” Wang said.
He added that the company would prefer such a device over augmented reality glasses.
Apple did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
it is Plans to launch AR glasses reportedly put on hold indefinitely By 2025. The company has been working on its own virtual and augmented reality experiences for a long time. In January, Bloomberg reported that it is Gearing up to release a mixed reality headset In the fall.
Apple often holds off on getting involved in a particular product trend or feature long after other firms have. For example, the iPhone didn’t get a dual-lens camera until 2017, years after HTC introduced a dual camera with its HTC One M8 handset in 2014.
“Apple has always been more cautious. I think the market is too big now [that] They will probably enter,” Wang said.
But when Apple finally makes its way into a new product category, it “redefines the way everyone thinks about an opportunity,” according to Leo Gabby, principal analyst for connected devices at CCS Insight.
Neil Shah, vice president of research at Counterpoint Research, told CNBC: “XR is the very latest in how we can interact with the world differently and change the paradigm of personal computing.”
“Apple and the entire industry realize the potential and therefore want to enter this segment and ultimately lead it,” he added.
XR Competition Is Fierce
Apple XR won’t be the only company to join the game. In October, Meta launched its $1,500 Quest Pro device, which lets users interact with virtual objects that appear in a full-color view of the world around them.
Earlier this week, a Samsung executive said that the South Korean electronics giant is “working” its mixed reality strategy. Microsoft It has its own Mixed Reality headset called HoloLens. Chinese smartphone maker on Monday Xiaomi took off the cover of a prototype set of augmented reality glasses,
This would mean more competition for HTC. In the second quarter of 2022, the company shipped more than 100,000 XR devices, up 158% from 40,000 shipments in the same period a year earlier, according to data from Counterpoint Research. But its market share is relatively small.
If anything, Wang thinks the space will spur overall adoption of mixed reality devices from Apple, Meta, Samsung and others, which she sees as a boon for HTC’s business.
“It really proved that our direction is correct,” she said. “Competition is always good.”
Once a major player in the smartphone market, HTC has staked its future on merging the virtual and physical worlds. In January, the company launched its Vive XR Elite device, a lightweight headset focused on gaming, fitness and productivity, priced at $1,099.
HTC sold a part of its smartphone business to Google in 2018 for $1.1 billion.
betting on the ‘metaverse’
The long-term bet is how these devices will interact with a large-scale virtual world, known as the “metaverse”. HTC has its own so-called metaverse, codenamed HTC Viverse, and the company talked about its ambitions in this area at the show this week.
“The metaverse is growing into a state where a lot of social media companies and walled garden companies are trying to carve it out for themselves,” Shane Yeh, HTC’s global head of product, told CNBC. “Our goal is to make sure it’s as open and interconnected as possible.”
The buzz surrounding the Metaverse has died down recently, as the initial hype surrounding Meta’s involvement has died down. According to IDC data, sales of VR headsets as well as augmented reality devices grew by more than 12% last year.
Companies have instead turned to artificial intelligence, the new in-vogue tech topic that has been catapulted by ChatGPT to the top of industry insiders’ favorite trends. Popular AI Chatbot, At MWC, the South Korean telecom firm SK Telecom There was a big sign that read “AI METAVERSE.”
Using one of HTC’s XR devices, users can immerse themselves in virtual locations or interact with 3D objects in the physical space around them.
In an experience shown at MWC, people were invited to try their boxing skills. A grid of nine black circles appeared, and you were scored on how quickly you could punch them as they turned red one after the other in random order.
Beyond the consumer space, HTC sees its technology offering applications in more commercial and industrial settings. Wang said the company is working with the United States Air Force and police departments to create virtual training experiences.
Watch: CEO says ChatGPT is a ‘milestone’ for Qualcomm as it demonstrates AI smartphone capability