Apple is making some serious inroads in augmented reality. But it's unclear how long Apple can ride the iPhone before smart glasses become cool.
Robert Scoble, futurist, blogger and entrepreneur-in-residence at Upload VR, wrote this month that Apple may be working with international optical company Carl Zeiss on a "light pair of augmented reality/mixed reality gasses that may be announced this year," according to a Zeiss employee. These glasses would superimpose computer-generated images on the real world.
But Gene Munster, Apple bull and founder of Loup Ventures, wrote Friday that AR goggles "are not the type of product we envision Apple shipping in the next couple of years."
Munster wrote on Friday that the iPhone's upcoming hardware features will be conducive to "killer" augmented reality apps. "AR is a critical part [of Apple's future]," Munster told CNBC on Friday, on "Closing Bell." "You can put a stake in the ground and say Apple's going to be an AR company."
But for the next five years, the iPhone will be Apple's AR device – think "Pokemon Go"-style apps – although Munster sees the company moving to wearables eventually.
But Scoble thinks Tim Cook better worry about competing in the "spatial computing" era.
"The innovation on smartphones is petering out, although Apple has some surprises in store," Scoble told "Closing Bell" on Friday. "I think the computing world is going to shift now to wearing glasses."
A see-through tenth anniversary iPhone, with augmented reality capabilities, could be a "really cool" option for Apple, Scoble said. Augmented reality is the best education tool ever invented by humans, Scoble said, and entertainment will also be "absolutely huge."
"Right now it's really geeky," Munster said of AR. "Ultimately, it's going to do everything from how we do social, how we learn, train. Those are just some of the starting points."
Loup Ventures managing partner Andrew Murphy wrote this week that Apple is taking "baby steps" to train customers to accept augmented reality while they build up their production line.
"The iPhone 7 Plus will have a huge implications for 3D mapping and real-time image processing in an AR world," Murphy wrote, adding: "AirPods (our new favorite toys), in combination with Apple Watch, are clear steps towards a post-mobile world."