Laid Out the Playbook

Apple is the most valuable company in the world, and it makes a lot of profit, but its long-term future depends on it coming up with a new product, a new “one more thing.”

The Apple Watch, which has been selling poorly for Apple, isn’t going to do it.

Apple needs a new platform. And Apple CEO Tim Cook knows it. That’s why he’s been dropping hint after hint that Apple’s next major technology initiative is augmented reality — basically, integrating software into the real world.

“It is a visual technology that interprets the world for you,” Research Vice President at Gartner Brian Blau told Business Insider. “If you think about augmented reality in that sense, it could be the next big grand computing platform. That has been the long-term promise.”

AR is a close cousin of virtual reality. For now, augmented reality means you can hold up your phone and, for example, identify landmarks, discover a hidden Pokemon or magically translate signs using your device’s camera.

The end game of augmented reality is a pair of computer glasses or perhaps a contact lens that can superimpose computer graphics into the real world seamlessly.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has talked about augmented reality essentially every time he’s been called on to make public remarks recently.

“This is something you know it’s coming,” Piper Jaffray managing director Gene Munster told Business Insider. “The only other times they’ve talked like this is before the iPhone came out, they started to indicate they could do something in the phone market. Before the Apple Watch came out they talked about wearables and the wrist being a better option.”

“It’s pretty rare that Apple has been this clear that something is coming,” Munster said.

If you parse Cook’s most recent comments on AR, given at an event in Utah in October, he seems to lay out Apple’s strategy for attacking this market, according to analysts and people in the AR industry.

‘Three meals a day’

Cook said about AR:

“It will be enabled in the operating systems first, because it’s a precursor for that to happen for there to be mass adoption of it. I’d look for that to happen in the not-too-distant future. In terms of it becoming a mass adoption [phenomenon], so that, say, everyone in here would have an AR experience, the reality to do that, it has to be something that everyone in here views to be an ‘acceptable thing.’

I do think that a significant portion of the population of developed countries, and eventually all countries, will have AR experiences every day, almost like eating three meals a day, it will become that much a part of you, a lot of us live on our smartphones, the iPhone, I hope, is very important for everyone, so AR will become really big.