Apple could launch mixed reality device this year


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Cher Wang, chairperson, co-founder and CEO of HTC, speaks at a keynote on the second day of the Mobile World Congress 2023.

Joan Cros | Nurphoto | Nurphoto via Getty Images

BARCELONA — The boss of consumer electronics firm HTC thinks Apple is going to launch its own mixed reality headset, but she’s not worried about the competition.

Speaking with CNBC at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, HTC CEO and co-founder Cher Wang said the Cupertino tech giant was likely to launch a mixed reality, or XR, product “very soon” — potentially as soon as this year. XR refers to technologies that blend the physical and digital worlds.

“I think the earliest [release date] may be middle or later this year,” Wang said.

The company will likely prioritize such a device over augmented reality glasses, she added.

Apple did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment.

It has reportedly indefinitely paused plans to launch AR glasses by 2025. The company has long been rumored to be working on its own virtual and augmented reality experiences. In January, Bloomberg reported that it is gearing up to release a mixed reality headset in the spring.

Apple often holds off on getting into a particular product trend or feature until long after other firms. For instance, the iPhone didn’t get a camera with two lenses until 2017, years after HTC introduced a dual camera with its HTC One M8 handset in 2014.

“Apple is always more cautious. I think the market is now big enough [that] they probably will enter,” Wang said.

But when Apple does eventually make its way into a new product category, it tends to “redefine the way that everyone thinks about an opportunity,” according to Leo Gebbie, principal analyst for connected devices at CCS Insight.

Neil Shah, research vice president of Counterpoint Research, told CNBC: “XR is the newest form of how we can interact differently with the world and can change the paradigm of personal computing.”

“Apple and the entire industry realizes the potential and hence want to enter and eventually lead this segment,” he added.

XR competition is fierce

Apple wouldn’t be the only company getting in on the XR game. In October, Meta launched its $1,500 Quest Pro device, which lets…