AR glasses, not Apple’s

Did you spot the unsightly gray cord running past the guy’s left ear?

From Arjun Kharpal’s “Chinese augmented reality glasses maker Nreal valued at $700 million after fresh funding” posted Wednesday on CNBC:

GUANGZHOU, China — Chinese augmented reality (AR) glasses maker Nreal has raised $100 million to fund international expansion and develop new products.

Augmented reality refers to technology that allows digital images to be imposed over the real world and it’s an area that the world’s largest technology companies are investing in…

Nreal has not launched its AR glasses in China yet, but its flagship product — the Nreal Light — has been retailing in a handful of markets including South Korea, Japan and Spain.

Nreal Light is a pair of lightweight glasses which connects to a smartphone. Users can then experience so-called mixed reality apps, where digital images are superimposed over the real world…

Global tech giants are getting excited about augmented reality.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has called AR the “next big thing” and the iPhone maker is reportedly working on a headset. Facebook, Microsoft, Google and other technology companies are all investing in augmented reality too.

Xu said he welcomes the competition from these titans. “I think the best product will win,” he said.

My take: We could see a lot of these on the market before Apple shows its hand. But the clock is ticking.


  1. Jerry Doyle said:
    “…. Having compelling apps on AR headsets will be key to their success and Nreal is trying to lure developers onto Nebula. The company currently has 8,000 developers on the platform.”

    Wow! The company is 8,000 ahead of Apple in that niche. Interesting how Nreal CEO took aim at Apple’s 15-30% App Store cut saying, “We should offer a more friendly business model to developers” than Apple’s model.

    I am excited about AR glasses. I do not understand fully their true potential, but I do see some areas where I would welcome using them. It will be the developers who will drive this market. It excites me to see the level of competition from Google, MS, FB, Nreal & others as competition will drive this effort forward for all involved. I know fully Apple will benefit from this competitiveness. Tim Cook keeps saying that AR is the next big thing in tech, so one doesn’t have to think long connecting the dots to know Apple AR glasses are coming. I’m just curious as to how I will use them.

    September 23, 2021
    • Bart Yee said:
      @Jerry NReal ahead? So many other innovators thought the same thing while developing their products and software ambitions. So what does NReal have to offer its 8000 developers?
      1) Little to no sales or revenue at present.

      2) likewise no app downloads, and no developer App revenue regardless of how little AR App Store percentage is taken.

      3) a fledgling AR OS, hardware, and tie-in to existing smartphones, most of which are not optimized for AR. Pretty much a mirror of your smartphone screen with Maps engaged.

      So both NReal and developers are living on borrowed money and vague promises of future adoption and growth – as are all other comers – see Google Glass and Facebook Oculus. Oculus has been estimated to have sold ~5M units so far since mid-2020.

      Compare this with Apple who has already been working with (unknown numbers of) developers in ARkit since 2017 and waiting for the hardware, use applications to develop and catch up. What’s in it for them? Oh, 1.1-1.5 billion installed user base who are willing to spend and 50-60% already have leading edge A12-A15 + M1 CPU power, Bluetooth and ultrawide chip communications on board, PLUS Apple’s capitalization and R&D spending. Did I also mention AR can be adapted to a HUD in a future iCar?

      So if only 0.01% initially adopted, that would “only” be ~11M unit sales. Like the Apple Watch, growth would depend on Apple helping to define uses and applications and letting developers expand those definitions. Once established, Apple lures more developers because there’s a real revenue stream, real user audience, and “UNreal” potential for growth, NLike NReal.

      September 23, 2021
      • Jerry Doyle said:
        @Bart Yee: Thanks brother Bart! Your comment was no less than a spirit of edification for me. 🙂

        September 23, 2021
  2. Fred Stein said:
    I’m intrigued by the concept of getting context info nearly effortless when walking about, But…

    TAM is reduced by everyone who needs real glasses.

    $800 is a lot of money for something that folks won’t want to wear all the time, and don’t really need.

    In contrast, Apple Watch has none of these limits.

    September 23, 2021

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