Laptops at Apple WWDC
Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Apple’s headset was MIA at WWDC

Protocol Entertainment

Hello, and welcome to Protocol Entertainment, your guide to the business of the gaming and media industries. This Thursday, we take a closer look at all the things Apple did and did not reveal about its AR/VR ambitions at WWDC, as well as Spotify’s latest metrics. Also: an epic bind.

One more year without one more thing

Remember Gene Munster? The former Piper Jaffray analyst became infamous for his steadfast belief in an Apple TV set. Year after year, Munster would predict that Apple’s very own flat-screen TV was just around the corner. And every year, Apple events would go by without the company announcing one.

Newsflash: We’ve all become Gene Munster — except instead of a TV, we’re all awaiting the announcement of Apple’s mixed-reality headset. Granted, there’s been plenty of credible reporting about Apple’s headset plans, while it was never really clear where Munster got his flawed intel from. Still, there was Munster-like excitement ahead of this year’s WWDC — followed by some major disappointment.

  • Some people believed WWDC would mark the first of a series of AR-focused events that would culminate in the release of the headset next year.
  • Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, who has done a lot of insightful reporting on Apple’s headset plans, correctly predicted that we wouldn’t get to see the device this week.
  • However, he also suggested that the headset would “dominate WWDC.”
  • Reports of a recently filed trademark for RealityOS and Apple’s board getting a demo of the headset further fueled speculations that Apple may have been planning to spotlight AR during the show.

In the end, the headset was once again a no-show. What’s more, AR was barely mentioned during the two-hour keynote speech, and Apple didn’t give professional tea-leaf readers a whole lot to work with when it came to the announcements that didn’t make the keynote.

  • ARKit, the company’s framework for mobile AR experiences, received only a minor update, and now allows the capture of higher-resolution video.
  • RealityKit, the company’s 3D-rendering framework, didn’t receive any major updates either.
  • Completely absent from WWDC: WebXR, the web standard for AR and VR experiences. AR developers in particular have long been frustrated with Apple’s lack of commitment to bring WebXR support to the iOS version of Safari.
  • Apple did put a bigger focus on gaming during the keynote, announcing both a new version of Metal as well as a few major games coming to its existing platforms.
  • The fact that the two titles mentioned in the keynote — No Man's Sky and Resident Evil Village — also happen to be among the titles that Sony announced for its PSVR 2 headset fueled speculation that Apple may be laying groundwork for mixed-reality gaming.

Apple did unveil one interesting AR feature at WWDC:RoomPlan allows developers to incorporate 3D room scanning into their mobile apps.

  • Using the iPhone’s LiDAR sensor, RoomPlan makes it easy to capture environments that can then be incorporated into mobile AR apps and games.
  • RoomPlan is also capable of detecting a bunch of common objects in someone’s home, including tables, sofas, refrigerators and stoves.
  • It’s been widely reported that Apple’s headset will use video pass-through, allowing developers to incorporate a real-time view of someone’s surroundings into mixed-reality experiences.
  • A feature like RoomPlan could be key to making sense of that pass-through view, allowing developers to place virtual objects on real tables and having virtual monsters hide behind real couches.
  • Meta has been doing something very similar with video pass-through on the Quest and its upcoming Project Cambria headset, both of which allow people to map their room in mixed reality.
  • Apple could bring RoomPlan to its headset. Or the company may have people scan their houses with their iPhones and then put on their headsets to explore those scanned environments in 3D.

Apple fans often sound like cult members, and their willingness to explain away disappointment tends to be impressive. Before Monday’s keynote, many mused we would get a huge surprise. After the keynote was over, the new consensus was that we didn’t get to see any major AR updates because “they must be working on something over there.”

However, unlike Gene Munster, they may actually be right.

— Janko Roettgers

Spotify by the numbers

Spotify used its investor day this week to release updates on a few key metrics. Company executives also highlighted parts of the business they see as important growth drivers, including podcasts, ad-supported music and audio books. Here are some of the numbers worth paying attention to:

  • Spotify generated close to €200 million (about $214 million) in revenue with podcasts in 2021.
  • Podcasts now account for 7% of all listening hours on Spotify, and 30% of Spotify’s users listened to podcasts in Q1.
  • Spotify’s podcast business still has a 57% negative gross margin, but the company is also only monetizing 14% of all podcast listening on its platform.
  • 23% of the company’s U.S. revenues now come from ads; worldwide, that number is 12%.
  • Spotify aims to have 1 billion users by 2030.
  • The company plans to generate $100 billion in revenue annually over the next decade, with a 40% gross margin and a 20% operating margin.
  • To get there, Spotify wants to tap into new revenue streams, including audio books, which CEO Daniel Ek called “an annual opportunity of $70 billion dollars for us to expand and eventually compete for.”

— Janko Roettgers


There are three things that companies need to know when it comes to setting climate goals. The first thing I would say is that if you're going to set a climate goal as a business, it needs to be a businesswide effort. It cannot live within just the corporate responsibility or the sustainability team as it often does.

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In other news

Pluto is launching in Canada this fall. Paramount’s free streaming service has teamed up with Corus Entertainment to bring more than 100 free streaming channels to Canadian viewers.

IDC: Meta sold close to 15 million Quest 2 headsets. The new estimate means the Quest 2 may have outsold the Xbox Series X/S.

GameStop’s worker crisis. A GameStop store in Nebraska had all four of its employees quit simultaneously, leaving it unattended with a note on the door directing customers to competing shops, Kotaku reported. Workers say they feel mistreated by corporate and regional managers.

Neal Stephenson has launched a blockchain startup.Lamina1 wants to build metaverse-focused blockchain tech. Part of the team: AR OG Tony Parisi.

Tencent looks beyond China. The Chinese government’s restrictions on online gaming has Tencent looking at the international market for games once considered exclusive to the Chinese market, starting with Honor of Kings.

Unity’s CEO wants to power the TikTok of the metaverse. John Riccitiello doesn’t believe every metaverse platform needs avatars, and he doesn’t have high hopes for Meta’s Horizon Worlds.

Alex Kipman is out at Microsoft. The head of the company’s AR/VR efforts is leaving after a Business Insider investigation detailed inappropriate conduct.

Call of Duty’s live service experiment. The newest entry in the series will force players to leave their in-game purchases behind. The move will test the limits of how much money consumers feel like investing in platforms that might become obsolete over time.

Stuck on you

Move over, “Top Gun”: The internet has a new favorite blockbuster, and it’s the tale of two bowls that are stuck together. Ever since their owner solicited advice on how to separate the two earlier this week, thousands of people have chimed in, with suggestions ranging from heat to ice, from plungers to dildos (don’t ask) and from taking the bowls onto an airplane to making use of “a decent sized mountain.” It’s all very sweet, funny and heartwarming. You can follow along here, but be warned: It’s gripping!

— Janko Roettgers


Once a company understands its sustainability baseline, it is important to identify areas that the company can feasibly make more sustainable, and then address those areas. Implementing technology that improves connectivity and provides greater insight into operations will prove to be the solution for many companies.

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Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.

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