Looking to capitalize on the fail that was Google Glass, tech giant Apple has assembled a small team to work on various augmented reality (AR) projects, according to Gene Munster, a managing director and senior research analyst at Piper Jaffray. In fact, the world's most valuable company is actively exploring this new space, Munster said in an advisory issued on Wednesday.
Pawing through the wreckage of the Google Glass experiment, analysts have pondered the causes of the search giant's unusual but thorough failure. Was it the cost ($1,500)? Was it the creepiness ("glassholes")? Was it the epic lack of style? Or are we just not ready for augmented reality?
It's Munster's opinion that the failure of Google Glass is just a minor pothole on the road to our augmented future, according to published reports.
Never Forget a Face
In an interview on Wednesday with CNBC, Munster described AR as "the next big thing" that was attracting a lot of attention from a variety of tech giants, including Apple, Google, and Microsoft.
"Essentially, what this is, is Google Glass that is not geeky or creepy, and ultimately it is something that takes the real world and overlays the virtual world on top of it, Munster said.
Among the examples he cited were enhanced game play, instant identification of buildings as someone walks down the street, the ability to review a menu while passing a restaurant, and the ability to look at someone and know that person's name and other relevant information. "You'll never forget someone's name again," Munster predicted.
Apple is known for the quality of its design, and may be capable of creating a heads-up display that would be attractive enough to minimize some of the social stigma that helped doom the Google Glass product.
"Google Glass was clumsy," Munster told CNBC. "It was difficult to see and then there was the social stigma around it. Our belief is that if these devices actually have a lot of utility, people will put up with some of the social stigma."
No More Displays?
Munster told CNBC that the companies working in this space are convinced that augmented reality is the next major revolution and that, eventually, the technology will replace the display as we know it.
"Whether it's a phone or a computer, it's going away," Munster said. "It's going to take 10, 20 years to do it, but Apple's working on solving that problem."
Munster pointed out that when Facebook purchased Oculus Rift, CEO Mark Zuckerberg predicted that AR was the next big development platform. As Munster has noted, there is an important distinction between AR -- augmented reality -- and VR -- virtual reality. Augmented reality blends virtual reality and real life, while virtual reality is more about creating a virtual world that users can interact with. Oculus Rift is more commonly associated with VR.
Munster's investor advisory did not contain any estimate as to the potential size of the augmented reality market. However, he argued that the Apple Watch is an early foray into the process of designing a product that is both fashionable and functional.
Posted: 2015-03-20 @ 6:34pm PT
This is the same Apple that developed and then killed QuickTimeVR?