Apple is moving forward on development of its mixed-reality headset with Pegatron set to be the exclusive partner for final assembly, according to DigiTimes. Based on the headset's current status in the manufacturing validation process, the report predicts that mass production is likely to begin in March 2023 with an unveiling possibly being held the following month.
Initial production is said to be very limited, with a high price point limiting Apple's first headset mainly to commercial markets.
Industry sources stated this XR headset mainly targets the commercial markets. The price is higher and the shipment quantity is limited. Previous estimates said that the annual shipment for this device would reach 2.5 million units. However, right now, rough estimates placed the annual shipment at around 0.7 to 0.8 million units. For supply chain manufacturers that benefit from quantity, this is not a particularly profitable order.
Despite low profitability on production of the initial headset, Apple's manufacturing partners are said to be willing to work with Apple on the project to prove their technical capabilities so they will be well positioned for future AR/VR products. Apple's brand recognition also makes it easier for the firms to raise money in capital markets to fund their activities.
Apple has been working on augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality headsets for a number of years, but has reportedly faced some development struggles that have slowed its progress. While earlier rumors had suggested Apple might show off the headset at some point during 2022, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in June that Apple would likely target a January 2023 introduction.
Today's report from DigiTimes may not necessarily significantly differ from Kuo's, as Kuo suggested that pre-orders would not begin until the second quarter of 2023 with shipments beginning by WWDC in June.
Consequently, both Kuo and DigiTimes appear to be citing similar time frames for mass production, with differences in expected introduction timing (January for Kuo and April for DigiTimes) coming down to Apple's preference for how much lead time to give developers before the headset begins shipping.