Apple's Domination in Wearables is About to Get Bigger by@wisernewsletter

Apple's Domination in Wearables is About to Get Bigger

Apple recently hit a market cap of $3 trillion, it made them the size of the UK, the 5th largest economy in the world. Apple's Services & Wearables businesses are expected to drive top-line growth going forward and ring the $4 trillion bell. Apple Pay and the growing subscriber base for Apple One, Fitness+. Music and TV are key growth indicators for Apple Services revenues that now represent over a fifth of Apple's income. CEO Tim Cook has made no secret that he sees Apple's future in Augmented Reality, not Virtual Reality, as far back as 2016.
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Wearables & Services are the drivers of Apple's top-line growth

When Apple recently, albeit briefly, hit a market cap of $3 trillion, it made them the size of the UK, the 5th largest economy in the world. And whereas the UK is growing at around 1-2% at best (given the economic impact of the pandemic and the own goal that is Brexit), Apple grew 36% last year. By comparison, the S&P 500 (only) achieved growth of 26% across 2021.


Whilst it is the iPhone (with its billion users) that makes up almost half of Apple's numbers, it is Apple's Services and Wearables businesses that are expected to drive top-line growth going forward and ring the $4 trillion bell. Increasingly, Apple's strategy is to (a) get you to pay regularly every month in ever-increasing amounts (instead of the one-off transactions from buying a new iPhone, iPad or Mac computer)  and (b) grab more of your time and attention.

Apple Services

Strong adoption of Apple Pay (92% market share in US mobile payments) and the growing subscriber base for Apple One, Fitness+, Music, and TV are key growth indicators for Apple's Services revenues that now represent over a fifth of Apple's income.

Apple Wearables

Apple Wearables is a $30 billion business and bigger than Starbucks on its own. If it was a standalone company, it would be in the top 100 of the Fortune 500. When the numbers are released, it is expected that Apple will report sales of over 105 million Wearables units last year. That's about two-fifths of the number of iPhones shipped. Not bad considering that 2021 was a record year for iPhone sales!


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Apple's Wearables business includes the number 1 selling watch in the world and the number 1 selling wireless speakers. There are now 100 million people wearing an Apple Watch and in 2020, the Apple Watch outsold the entire Swiss watchmaking industry that has been around since the late 1600s (the Apple Watch was launched in 2015!).


The Airpods business alone generates roughly $12 billion a year, more than Shopify, Snap, and Twitter combined. If all the AirPod users were counted as a population, they would be the 8th largest nation in the world.


And it isn't going to stop there.


The new AirPod3 focuses on spatial audio and technology to recreate a natural sound in the user's ear. Apple has already submitted a patent to install a camera in its AirPods case (so that users don't need to carry their phone with them when they're out running). The Independent reported that Apple is working on various health monitoring features for AirPods to "read your body temperature, improve your hearing, and oversee your posture.


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Apple dominates the market in Wearables

When others were focused on voice products, Apple applied its people-centric design competency to build people-pleasing devices that could enhance a user’s appearance. The AirPod and Apple Watch are stylish fashion accessories that would compliment any Italian fashion show. They signal status and wealth whereas a MetaFacebook Oculus 2 VR headset in your Tinder profile pic is a surefire way to remain single for the rest of your life.


So, what's next for Apple in the Wearables space?

The good money is on two brand new products. One will be a VR/Mixed Reality Headset that will be a sleeker version of a conventional gaming headset. The other is a pair of AR Smart Glasses that project an overlay onto the lens of the glasses. These AR glasses will come later, probably by 2024 or 2025.


Apple's Mixed Reality Headset

Apple CEO Tim Cook has made no secret of the fact that he sees Apple's future in Augmented Reality, not Virtual. As far back as 2016, Tim Cook has been saying that he sees AR as being bigger and more important technology than VR.


However, Apple will go first with a VR headset that is being described as Mixed Reality because it will also have AR features. Apple has long been rumored to be working on its very own mixed reality headset. If patent filings are anything go by, Apple's not-so-secret "secret" R&D team has been working on AR and VR projects for at least a decade.


The details of the Apple headset are closely guarded but the word on the street suggests that it would start with an impressive 8K resolution per eye. It would also be loaded with sensors, with more than a dozen “inside out” cameras to track movement. The headset is also anticipated to be lightweight, have 15 optical modules and two main processors, come equipped with Wi-Fi connectivity. The AR features will include eye-tracking, a see-through mode, object tracking, and hand gesture controls. And remember, it's an Apple, which means it'll be priced high. Nobody knows, but the going rate by the commentators lean towards a ballpark price of around $3k.


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Apple Glasses

As I said, Cook sees the future in AR. The ability to overlay useful information onto the lens of a normal-looking pair of glasses that are not the size of a house brick. Instead, Apple would use transparent lenses to allow the user to see the real world with their own eyes (which is not the VR experience). The display would be shown via a small projector or through transparent pixels on the lens itself.


Theoretically, the user will see information like Apple Maps' directions or incoming iMessages. Apple's wearable is expected to utilize a slim design encased in plastic with no cameras.


This last point is key. Readers of the Wiser! Newsletter will remember the recent launch of the MetaFacebook Ray-Bans that included an in-built camera on the front of them. It wasn't long before MetaFacebook learned that 'inconspicuous cameras' and 'invasion of privacy' are joined at the hip.


Instead, Apple (allegedly) will use LiDAR sensors to enable environment and hand tracking.

Interestingly, in a recent patent filing, Apple was given the go-ahead for smart glasses that could adjust its lenses to correct the wearer's vision. The company proposes to use a stack of lenses for each eye that can be precisely adjusted to control how much light passes through. An eye-tracking system could be used to provide more advanced adjustment to the user's vision. Whether Apple Glasses could replace prescription glasses is not clear, but it is entirely possible that they could adjust to become standard reading glasses, like those that are bought off the shelf.


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