Reality Isn’t Real, Man, But It Could Be Soon

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Mixed reality predictions for Apple, iPhone takes a totally expected hit, and more Apple history up for auction.

Gurman: Mixed Reality to Mute Other Apple Offerings This Year

I have a love/hate relationship with Mark Gurman’s “Power On” newsletter. Gurman made a name for himself in college (maybe even in high school) getting scoops from inside Apple and writing them up for — was it 9to5Mac? After college, he got a job with Bloomberg. Ever since, he’s driven a lot of the Apple conversation — whether he’s right or not. 

I sort of try to avoid saying what Gurman says — not because I dislike him, but because it’s all just rumor. He may be in the know. But we don’t know who he knows, nor where he’s getting his info week to week. Still, some weeks the suppositions are so big, I feel compelled to mention them since they are going to drive the conversation for at least a day or two. So — here’s what he said in Sunday’s  “Power On” newsletter:

Big Expectations for Apple’s AR/VR Headset

  • Gurman says Apple will announce the mixed-reality headset during a media event this spring — not wait until WWDC
  • The device’s operating system will be called xrOS
  • Developers will learn all about xrOS at WWDC
  • The device is likely to be called Reality Pro
  • The device will ship in the fall of 2023
  • According to Gurman, “the company is banking on the product as its hot new introduction for this year” 

With so much expected on the mixed reality front, the rest of Apple’s updates and offerings will be muted, in Gurman’s estimation. That includes no physical redesigns of any Mac — save a 15-inch MacBook Air, it seems. While there will be a Mac Pro powered by Apple Silicon, it’ll have the same look as the extra-large cheese grater introduced in 2019. Additionally, he’s expecting no major redesign for any iPad in 2023, nothing major for Apple Watch, nothing major for AirPods, and nothing at all for Apple TV. He does anticipate a return for the original-size HomePod, at a lower price than its predecessor. 

What About the iPhone 15?

On the phone front, Gurman says:

The new iPhone’s hardware (…) could still be impressive. I’m told to expect the same screen sizes as the iPhone 14 family, but the Dynamic Island will expand to all four models. A titanium frame replaces stainless steel on the Pro models, and there will be haptic volume buttons. The phone also will switch to USB-C and faster processors.

As for changes to iOS 17, iPadOS 17, and macOS 14 — muted. But — you know… We won’t hear anything official on those until WWDC. That’s not likely to happen until June, leaving plenty of time to forget what was written in the second week of January. 

As Expected, iPhone Sales Tanked in China in November

A thing that we knew would happen with iPhone has happened with iPhone. AppleInsider highlights a report from JP Morgan. That firm has had a look at November numbers from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, and they were not great for iPhone. For the month of November in China, iPhone shipments were down 58% versus the same month a year earlier. 

November, you no doubt remember, was the cruelest month where “iPhone City” production was concerned. Not surprisingly, that cost iPhone some market share in the Middle Kingdom, though one might be surprised how little. According to the report, Apple’s share of the Chinese smartphone market fell from 21% in November of 2021 to 19% in November of 2022. AppleInsider says the “decline in market share wasn’t so deep due to the overall smartphone market seeing a 34% decline as well.”

JP Morgan figures Apple is in for one more down month. Supply of iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max remained “constrained for at least the first half of [December].” 

This is all data that would have been baked into current expectations. While not great, JP Morgan is not put off by the news. They’ve got an “Overweight” rating on Apple shares. The firm’s price target on the shares is $190.

Mixpanel: iOS 16 Rings in 2023 with 70% Adoption Rate

iOS 16 has hit 70% adoption — that is the word from Mixpanel. Cult of Mac has the industry tracker indicating that Apple’s latest mobile operating system hit that mark on 1 January, “exactly 16 weeks” after the operating system’s launch. 

At this stage of the operating system’s release, one might wonder whether 70% is good or bad. The answer, is yes — maybe. The piece points out that iOS 12 hit 70% adoption about two-months after its release. That would seem to show a slowing for iOS upgrades. Then again, at this point in its release, last year’s iOS 15 had still not hit 70%. That would seem to show a quickening for iOS upgrades. 

Cult of Mac sees relatively recent iOS updaters breaking into three phases:

One is early adopters who wanted the update ASAP. The second phase is people who cautiously waited until a few versions were out to clear out bugs. And then there’s a final group of about 40% who don’t seem to care very much about the new version.

The Cult has a couple of interesting suppositions for what they see as a slowdown in upgrades. One is that it’s hard to wow people with iOS updates at this point, hence no rush. The other is that people don’t trust iOS updates not to be buggy, hence no rush. 

I would point out — as Cult of Mac did — that updates are going faster this year than last year. But, if they want to argue with themselves, who am I to… argue?

FT: Apple Hiring for Retail Stores in India

Apple appears to be gearing up for a retail presence of its own in India. “On Friday,” says a piece from the Financial Times

…Apple’s career page listed openings for 12 different job functions it seeks to fill in “various locations within India,” including technical specialist, business expert, senior manager, store leader and “genius”. 

12 listings may not sound like a lot, though that’s job types, not positions. With at least some listings thought to be for flagship locations, the piece says:

The 12 listings imply hundreds of job openings, as a typical Apple Store has at least 100 employees and flagship locations can have up to 1,000 workers.

No word in the piece on when any of the stores might open. Apple declined to comment for the Financial Times report.

Eleven Years Later, Apple Buys ‘Results Way’ Campus in Cupertino

Apple’s bought a bit more office space in Cupertino. Don’t expect any moving vans, though. The company’s actually inhabited the space for over a decade. 

AppleInsider says the Cupertino-company has purchased the building that formerly housed the Measurex computer control company. Located two-and-a-half miles from its old HQ at One Infinite Loop, the piece says Apple started leasing the new/old digs in the summer of 2011. Renamed “Results Way,” the report says the campus can accommodate “up to 1,300 staff.” 

Eleven-and-a-half-years after move-in and just ahead of Christmas 2022, Apple reportedly purchased the parcel for an undisclosed sum. 

Early Apple Memorabilia Up for Auction

And finally today, more Apple memorabilia is up for auction — truly rare by the sound of it. AppleInsider says an old toolbox that belonged to Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak and the first sign the company used at trade shows are both up for bids. According to the report, both items were owned by M. Thomas Liggett, Jr. — a facilities engineer for Apple in the 70s, Apple Computer employee #114. Both items were laying around and he got permission to take both, according to the piece. 

On the toolbox, AppleInsider says before Liggett was hired, Apple engineers were each given a personalized toolbox. He saw the one with Woz’s name on it laying around for a while, got Woz’s permission and took the thing. The story of the sign is more of a close call. According to the report:

…Liggett [says] he discovered a “fluorescent lightbox” in the building and learned it was from the first industry trade show that Jobs and Wozniak attended. Liggett says he was told to throw it away but asked and received permission to take it home.

In addition to the trade show work, AppleInsider says the sign was used by Apple “for years outside its headquarters in California.” It features Apple’s old, rainbow logo and the words “Apple Computer Inc.” in retro-futuristic lettering. Actually, I guess it would have just been futuristic in the 70s. 

Run by Alexander Historical Auctions in Maryland, the keepsakes can be yours to keep, but they won’t be cheap. The toolbox is expected to go for between $20,000 and $30,000, while the sign is expected to sell for between $100,000 and $200,000. You can see the items at The auction closes on 27 January.

Today on The Mac Observer’s Daily Observations Podcast

TMO Managing Editor Jeff Butts and I discuss Mark Gurman’s great expectations for a mixed reality headset and placeholder expectations for everything else. Plus — the state of iOS 16 upgrades. That’s all today on the Daily Observations Podcast from The Mac Observer.

One thought on “Reality Isn’t Real, Man, But It Could Be Soon

  • Ken:

    First, belated Happy New Year.

    Second, Gurman’s mixed reality murmurings are part of larger muddle of musings heralding the imminent advent of all things augmented. Not to equate this prophesying with those guys on street corners proclaiming that the end is nigh, but this ‘ad’ has been ‘venting’ for quite some time. True, Gurman spices his forecast with some juicy tidbits of tech, however all of these realities, whether ‘virtual’, ‘augmented’ or ‘mixed’ not only do not describe the same things (not that he’s doing that), but none of them describe a single ‘thing’. These are simply general technological applications, like ‘digital’.

    Were someone today to proclaim that ‘digital is here!’, we would likely say, ‘Welcome to the party. Now, to what digital application are you specifically referring?’ The applications are endless. Indeed, in modern tech, there is scarcely anything left that has not been ‘digitised’.

    The point being, whatever Apple (or anyone) proffers as a ‘mixed reality’ product, and whenever they offer it, it’s less the tech than the application of that tech as a means to solving whatever problem it solves, or in providing new opportunities for creativity that will ultimately drive, and more importantly sustain, its uptake. You’ve inspired me, time permitting, to take a deeper dive on this topic. ‘Time permitting’ being the operative words.

    As for those other products Gurman teases, the originally sized HomePods are the most enthralling to yours truly. When paired, they provide a truly immersive soundscape. The paired set in our master bedroom have become the de facto preferred venue, when servicing my XDR display, for the Mrs and me to enjoy a movie or some other Apple TV+ offering, at the expense of our far-more expensive theatre set up in the basement.

    Convenience. It’s the one thing that Apple’s mixed reality product absolutely must bring to the fight, solutions notwithstanding, in order to win this Big Tech showdown.


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