What's Up With Apple: Pricing in the Metaverse, Getting Sued and More

While Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) does not use the term (and likely never will), the metaverse may be the next big thing for the tech behemoth. In fact, several analysts have boosted their price targets for Apple stock based on products that Apple has not even admitted to working on.

Facebook made a lot of noise about the metaverse and even changed the company’s name to Meta Platforms to make sure that everyone made the connection. According to The Wall Street Journal, Meta’s stock price has risen by 7% since then, while Apple’s stock has gained more than 18% over the same period.

In December, The Wall Street Journal cited Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty’s note to investors when she raised her price target on Apple from $164 to $200:

New product categories need to get priced in. In conversations with venture-backed AR/VR [augmented reality/virtual reality] companies, the consensus view is that the real catalyst for mass market AR/VR adoption will come when Apple enters the market.

Senior Portfolio Manager Dan Morgan of Synovus Trust, a large holder of Apple stock, injected a bit of reality into the conversation:

Many analysts are pointing to Apple’s potential to diversify away from its core iPhone business into other revenue generators like augmented and virtual reality, metaverse as well as autonomous vehicles even though these segments are many years away from contributing significantly to Apple’s total revenue.

How many years away? Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi has written that Apple could ship 22 million AR devices by 2030, adding 4% to Apple’s sales total, and that by 2040, AR/VR devices “could represent more than 20% of overall revenue by 2040.”

Tuesday we noted a brewing dispute between wireless carriers and Apple over the new iCloud Private Relay feature of the company’s iOS and macOS operating systems. The VPN-like feature allows people to hide their web-browsing activity from the prying eyes of any person or company, including Apple and your carrier. Verizon and AT&T both confirmed Tuesday that they are not blocking the feature.

T-Mobile said it is not blocking the feature but that customers who have chosen plans that include content filtering (parental controls) “do not have access” to the feature that enables Private Relay “to work as designed.”

Briefly noted:

On Tuesday, Apple was granted a patent titled “Tunable and foveated lens system.” In English that refers to pair of glasses that could adjust its lenses to correct someone’s vision while offering the AR/VR features of the future.

Apple and Google, along with Singapore-based mobile game provider Sea and others, have been hit with a lawsuit by game makers Krafton and PUBG, developers of a copyrighted video game called “PlayerUnknown: Battlegrounds.” According to the complaint, a copycat game was almost instantly available and both Apple and Google began selling the copycat version in their app stores and have refused to remove the allegedly infringing game from the stores and from YouTube.

Speaking of patents, Apple has applied for a patent on a product display system that is both attractive and better at fending off the “smash-and-grab” thefts that have been increasing in Apple Stores. Some Apple Stores apparently have the system in place already.

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