Apple Strategy 2017. Very important change to iPhone coming.
I’m inside Tim Cook’s head but I really wonder what’s going on inside Mark Zuckerberg’s head?
Why do I say that?
First, this is a reprint of what I posted to Facebook this morning at: https://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble/posts/10154613869624655
The next iPhone will be, I am told, a clear piece of glass (er, Gorilla Glass sandwich with other polycarbonates for being pretty shatter resistant if dropped) with a next-generation OLED screen (I have several sources confirming this). You pop it into a headset which has eye sensors on it, which enables the next iPhone to have a higher apparent frame rate and polygon count than a PC with a Nvidia 1080 card in it. Thanks to foveated rendering. For more on that, see the interview with FOVE that I did. https://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble/videos/vb.501319654/10154580721034655/
The clear iPhone will put holograms on top of the real world like Microsoft HoloLens does.
Eye sensors will also bring a new kind of user interface. For that, see the interview I did with the founder of Eyefluence:
The phone itself has a next-generation 3D sensor from Primesense, which Apple bought. Apple has 600 engineers working in Israel on just the sensor. It’s the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. It’s the first product introduction in Apple’s new amazing headquarters. It’s a big f**king deal and will change this industry deeply. It’ll get rid of the HTC Vive lighthouse system, too.
Also, updates from new sources: expect battery and antennas to be hidden around the edges of the screen, which explains how Apple will fit in some of the pieces even while most of the chips that make up a phone are in a pack/strip at the bottom of the phone.
Qualcomm showed me inside-out VR tracking with a simple and cheap camera (AKA six degrees of freedom, er, 6DOF, which mobile phones do not yet have and desperately need). Now add a sensor that can see extremely small changes in depth. You’ll look through the glass in mixed reality modes (think of a new kind of Pokemon game) either in the headset, or in your hand. Apple’s purchase of Metaio is going to prove very key. I won’t be shocked to learn that Peter Meier, CTO there, is in charge of the next iPhone strategy and has been for years. This interview, back in 2011, shows the kind of vision he has: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFgIuOPQovo What all this means is that really amazing VR/AR/mixed reality is coming to a phone, and coming by the end of 2017.
So, the question I have with Mark is: how are you going to compete with a “mixed reality” release of the iPhone that’s coming in 11 months? I expect that iPhone will sell 60 million in first weekend. Why do I say that? The iPhone 7/7+ just sold 40 million in the first weekend and it really didn’t bring that much new stuff to the market.
That’s more VR sold than all others combined. In one weekend. Remember, even the “free” Google Cardboard has only been given away about 10 million times. HTC Vive has sold somewhere around 100,000 units. Sony Playstation VR, around a million. Samsung Gear VR a little more than a million so far. Oculus Rift? Less than a million.
Apple’s entrance into this new world is like when IBM came into the personal computing world. It is that important.
If I were at Facebook I’d get the entire Oculus team to pivot. Toward mixed reality glasses. Why?
Microsoft’s execs already told me they are betting 100% on mixed reality (with its Microsoft HoloLens product). The strategy at Microsoft is “Cloud + Hololens.” That’s it. The entirety of a $455 billion company is betting on mixed reality.
I’m quite convinced that most of us will be wearing mixed reality glasses three to four years from now, whether from Microsoft, Magic Leap, Apple, Amazon, Meta, or something from China (expect to see new brands evolve, just like DJI is now the biggest drone manufacturer).
Facebook has to make the same pivot or open itself up to new competitors. There’s a reason why Microsoft bought LinkedIn: It will show you lots of new social stuff in HoloLens.
If I were Mark I’d also be making a major deal with Apple.
What does Mark have to negotiate with beyond 1.7 billion people on Facebook, along with another billion at Instagram, and another billion on What’s App?
Well, I think the key is what Mark lost on top of that SpaceX rocket that blew up. He said he lost $200 million worth of satellites. Except what does that really mean? Well I know of startups that are putting hundreds of satellites up for about that much.
Add in the drones that Facebook is building and the datacenters that Facebook has built, and is building, around the world, and Apple and Facebook could make a big new cloud deal all centered on VR/Mixed Reality.
Oh, and Facebook has the best social tools. Compare to Twitter where you can’t even really block trolls. Here you can (they can’t even see your page if you block someone). I expect Apple will need that and doesn’t have the time, nor the social skills, to build that.
But the road to success for Facebook isn’t very clear to me, which isn’t the first time. I’m usually behind where Zuck is strategically. He’s clearly playing a game that’s pretty advanced and ahead of what I can see just by doing the research I’ve done for the book Shel Israel and I have written that will be out at CES in January 2017 “The Fourth Transformation.” Facebook features in that book but the invisible elephant in the room was Apple and now I see how Apple is going to bring us a mixed reality iPhone and, within a couple of years, mixed reality glasses to compete with Hololens and Magic Leap.
Apple has distribution, er, stores, that Facebook doesn’t. You need stores to sell mixed reality. You need to put it on your face to understand it. This is something only Apple can do, Facebook can’t.
Apple has a brand you want on your face. I don’t think that’s true of Facebook. Yes, we all use Facebook, but we don’t LOVE it. Apple is loved. Tesla and Mercedes and other luxury car brands are loved. Sephora is loved (by women). Facebook isn’t. So if Facebook will probably need to come up with a new brand to sell us mixed reality like Microsoft is doing with HoloLens. Even there, HoloLens isn’t loved the way Apple is, particularly for an on-the-face brand.
Oh, and watch for Snap (formerly Snapchat) to do major things in this space too, although it will struggle to get the older people who have the money to buy such things excited. Apple is in a much better position short term here.
Apple has huge money to invest in building markets. Facebook has a nice war chest too, but it’s very small compared to the cash Apple’s sitting on. Plus, Facebook hasn’t been making the kinds of acquisitions in sensors and other companies that Apple has been.
Apple has good relationships with Hollywood and the music industry. IE, content. Facebook is in a strong position too, but I see Apple as the winner there so far. Remember when I went to Coachella, the big music festival? 80% of its customers were Apple users.
This whole basket of things also puts into context the statements that Tim Cook has been making lately which basically are: AR is more important than VR, even though VR is important.
Mixed reality will do all of this: VR, AR, and mixed reality where the virtual world melts into the real world.
One thing is clear to me now after coming home from meeting dozens of consumer electronics leaders at GITEX in Dubai (the middle east’s biggest consumer electronics show): the next three years will see more new technologies and more new products released than we’ve seen in possibly human history. The investments being made are staggering and major companies (and leaders) will see their legacies made or destroyed in a very short time.
Oh, and in talking with Will Mason at Upload VR we’ve decided to wait to report all this on Upload’s site until we have more proof that Apple is actually doing a clear iPhone and headset that will do mixed reality (if you have info here, please contact us). Yes, I believe my sources who are leaders in the consumer electronics world, but until we see it or see photos released, or at least have someone inside Apple or at Foxconn, we’ll hold back. That said, I can take more risks with my own reputation here. There’s a chance that none of this will prove to be true. It’s easy for me to make a decision like this with my own reputation. Far harder for a venture-backed media company to take a risk when no one else has reported this stuff yet.
Either way, I have now seen the billions of dollars in investments being made in 3D sensors, eye sensors, screens, GPUs, AI, and AR-based and VR-based content. It’s all clear to me that something big is coming and coming in 2017. If you haven’t watched this video I did from Primesense’s suite at CES 2013 (before Apple bought it) you should: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VtXvj4X0CE Mind blowing stuff. You should also listen to this interview with the founder of Primesense: https://soundcloud.com/scobleizer/the-freaky-future-of-3d — it goes into the future of this amazing 3D sensor.
It is why we called our book “The Fourth Transformation.” Presales of that will start shortly. We’re also looking for people to do final reviews of our book (leave a comment here and we’ll get you a PDF version as soon as our editors get done since we finished the book a couple of weeks ago). Glad to have Gary Vaynerchuk on board since he wrote an awesome foreword.
No one in the world has done as much research about this new world coming as Shel Israel and I have. We’re now open for consulting and advising companies on how to move forward, too. Drop us a line!
Also, soon Jason McCabe Calacanis and I will start a new podcast on this topic and I’ll bring back my newsletter by the end of the year, too.
Apple Strategy 2017. Very important change to iPhone coming.