China's largest video game publisher has bowed out of their 'Metaverse' project just as Apple is preparing to introduce their first XR Headset
Just as Apple is reportedly aiming to introduce their first mixed reality headset at WWDC23, the headset industry, and more particularly the Metaverse, isn't going according to plan for Meta.
Mark Gurman stated in his Sunday newsletter that "Over the last several months, Meta Platforms Inc. has described the mixed-reality market as one that is built around a metaverse, virtual avatars and all-day experiences inside of virtual reality. That approach hasn’t taken off and the number of people who stick to their Meta headsets after six months has reportedly dwindled. Many consumers have said they don’t want to be isolated inside of a virtual environment and many are critical of the idea that the metaverse is the next big thing.
This week we also learning that China's Tencent, one of the highest grossing multimedia companies in the world based on revenue, decided to disassemble their VR hardware unit that was designed to address the Metaverse phenomena that never materialized.
A Reuters report posted on Thursday revealed that Tencent, "The world's largest video game publisher, had ambitious plans to build both virtual reality software and hardware at an "extended reality" XR unit it launched in June last year, for which it hired nearly 300 people. It had come up with a concept for a ring-like hand-held game controller, but difficulties in achieving quick profitability and the large investment needed to produce a competitive product were among factors that prompted a shift away from that strategy, two of the sources said. One of the sources said the XR project was not expected to become profitable until 2027, according to an internal forecast. The second source said the unit also had a lack of promising games and non-gaming applications.
The sources said that Tencent had advised most of the unit's staff to seek other opportunities, confirming a Thursday report from Chinese tech news outlet 36Kr. While not officially dead, the company is sidelining their plans for the foreseeable future.
What a time for Apple to be jumping into the XR world with both feet. Yet Gurman noted that "The WWDC venue is of course the perfect place for Apple to debut its Apple Reality software development kit and Mac-based simulator.
The mention of a Mac-Based simulator definitely caught my eye. Back in September 2021, Patently Apple posted a report titled "Samsung is working on AR Smartglasses that could provide users with Virtual Desktop Functionality at any time and on the go." Samsung's graphic of this concept, presented below, is to help you visualize a user being able to work on a Massive virtual PC display to create documents and so forth.
I've been hoping for at least one tech OEM to finally step up to the plate and deliver a mobile desktop. Working on large graphics on a notebook is a pain. Imagine a Virtual Headset that delivered a genuine macOS experience that's close or superior to that of an iMac? That alone would justify the $3,000 price tag for Apple's Headset.
It's not that Apple hasn't thought of something like that, because they have in several patents going back to at least 2017. The partial Apple patent figure below illustrates just that, a user working on creating 3D content.
Perhaps this concept won't debut right out of the gate, but it would be a serious iMac replacement that would interest many working at home, on the go and in the office.
Considering that an Apple executive has already said that he would never use the term metaverse, perhaps that was at the very least, a hint of things to come that are far more practical than spending time online as an Avatar playing dress-up.
Having a virtual iMac would certainly be a motivator for many to try out Apple's new headset. Will Apple hint at this at their WWDC23 event in June? Perhaps not at this early stage, though I'll never say never.