One of the side benefits of being a prognosticator of future events is this. For the most part, nobody keeps score. I could say that iPhone X will be priced at $1,500 and when it hits the streets at $900 or so, nobody will remember what I wrote.
Likewise, if you think you know the future and continue, year after year, predicting that Apple will launch an Apple-branded television set, you’d be both wrong and forgotten. Well, except for the forgotten part. Much of what we read on the interwebs stays on the interwebs, but you have to look for what is forgotten. The man who predicted an Apple television for years is back.
Predicting Apple Glasses
As is probably the case with most female prognosticators, I change my mind. Often. Maybe it’s genetic. Maybe it’s just thoughtful analysis. Regardless, as much as I was sure Google Glass was a huge dud, I’m sure that Gene Munster is right about Apple Glasses. Yeah, that Gene Munster. The Gene Munster who predicted for almost a decade that Apple television was coming. Soon. Wait for it.
Don’t wait for it. It will never happen.
So, why should we wait for Apple Glasses? After all, Google Glass was, is, and remains a certified dud. How would Apple Glasses be any different? The aforementioned Munster:
We expect iPhone revenue to grow at 15% in FY18 (essentially the next iPhone cycle) and account for 64% of revenue. We’re modeling for 12% unit growth as the next iPhone should inch up ASPs to $674 from FY18 from $651 in FY17. We believe tough comps after the next iPhone cycle will have a negative impact on iPhone growth in FY19, and in FY20 we believe Apple Glasses will start to impact iPhone sales.
Predictions come and go so I will ignore the years in question and just focus on the last sentence where Apple Glasses will start to impact iPhone sales. That implies the iPhone will reach a peak and then decline, and that Glasses will have already been introduced and customers are buying them in sufficient quantities to affect the iPhone’s sales.
Sure, why not?
Google Glass failed for a variety of reasons (expensive and useless Borg-like aesthetics notwithstanding), all of which Apple has taken pains to avoid, even though we don’t know exactly what Glasses will look like or do at some point in the future. Apple only recently announced ARKit which promises to put dynamic, interactive components overlaid onto our iPhone and iPad screens. This will be yet another technology revolution and within a few years we will see many thousands of augmented reality (the AR in ARKit) applications for iOS.
Then Apple Glasses?
Our best guess is that Apple Glasses, an AR-focused wearable, will be released mid FY20. This is based on the significant resources Apple is putting into AR, including ARKit and the recent SensoMotoric Instruments acquisition. We believe Apple see’s the AR future as a combination of the iPhone and some form of a wearable. With an average sale price of $1,300 we expect initial demand to be limited at just over 3m units compared to 242m iPhones that year.
Again, ignore the years and dates and anything else resembling a number. Don’t touch those. You don’t know where they’ve been, but I have a guess they came from where the sun don’t shine.
Until Apple Glasses have all the screen prowess of a 27-inch iMac with 5k Retina display, I see Apple Glasses working much like Apple Watch. A device tied to the iPhone. Like Watch, you will need an iPhone to make them work. Sure, one day Watch will be fully standalone, but not yet. Glasses won’t be standalone, either, and if the product takes off the way a Watch-equipped blood glucose sensor could take off, Apple will have yet another major product line– tied, at least for awhile, to the iPhone.
The next wave of technological cool is augmented reality and with ARKit Apple has leapfrogged competitors and already has hundreds of millions of devices which can put AR in your hand. Apple Glasses will come after the base of users and applications has grown.
That wasn’t so hard, was it?