Apple CEO Tim Cook recently explained in an interview with GQ why people might want the sort of mixed reality headset his company is expected to announce in the coming months.
The notoriously secretive company has been silent on the subject, and Cook didn’t confirm or deny the headset’s existence, but Cook spelled out his thinking on arguably the biggest question mark: Why would anyone buy it?
In short: art, communication, “creative” applications, and corporate environments, Cook told GQ.
“The idea that you could overlay the physical world with things from the digital world could greatly enhance people’s communication, people’s connection,” Cook told GQ.
VR as a tool, especially for communication, isn’t a novel concept. When Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg shared his vision for the Metaverse in 2021, upending how people communicated was one of the first things Zuckerberg discussed. Meta has struggled to find success with its virtual reality business, called Reality Labs.
But Meta’s struggles don’t seem to have put a damper on Cook’s nascent enthusiasm. GQ questioned Cook about comments he made in 2015, where he lambasted Google‘s attempt at a VR play.
Cook acknowledged his about-face, saying when “presented with something new that says you were wrong, admit it and go forward instead of continuing to hunker down and say why you’re right.”
To his mind, it’s creative users, long at the heart of Apple’s business model, who stand to gain the most from virtual reality products. The CEO said that augmented reality technology could project a piece of art onto a glass pane, helpful for creative or educational use.
“It’s the idea that there is this environment that may be even better than just the real world—to overlay the virtual world on top of it might be an even better world,” Cook told GQ. “If it could accelerate creativity, if it could just help you do things that you do all day long and you didn’t really think about doing them in a different way.”
Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has said that Apple, faced with a sluggish economic environment, has grown concerned about how a headset would be received. On the other hand, Bloomberg reported that the company expects to sell around one million units in the product’s first year.