Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster believes the end of the smartphone – more precisely the iPhone – is near. In the next fifteen years or so, the iPhone will be phased out in favour of augmented reality or virtual reality headsets, Munster suggests (via AppleInsider ). And apparently Apple is hard at work to ensure such a future arrive sooner rather than later.
According to Munster, the Cupertino-based company might be ready to offer iOS ecosystem support – through its Made for iPhone program – as early as by 2018 to developers allowing them to build certified AR or VR hardware around the platform. Recent purchases and hires at Apple suggest likewise, adds Munster.
Apple currently has at least 141 employees with a background in AR. For a company that is yet to make a debut in the field, having such an employee count that specialises in AR means something more than just a coincidence. For reference, Microsoft has 425 and Google has 267 employees with similar experience set.
“We believe 10 years from now Generation Z will find reality inefficient. We believe the concept of an ‘inefficient reality’ is evident through smartphone use today — the precursor to mixed reality — offering users the ability to find more information as needed,” says Munster.
To this effect, recent acquisitions by Apple — PrimeSense and FaceShift — reveal that Apple may already be working silently on a virtual reality or augmented reality product. Previous reports suggest likewise. That the company has assembled a large team of experts in virtual and augmented reality, and even built headset prototypes to compete with Facebook’s Oculus Rift and Microsoft’s Hololens was recently reported by the Financial Times .
Munster however believes that the company may not launch its own hardware anytime soon. Rather it would rely on third-party vendors (developers) to build hardware around its software.
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