Disney, Apple Vision Pro & the Metaverse
Today Apple made a big announcement. The tech giant announced a new platform, in the same scale as the iPhone, iPad, and the Apple Watch. Apple Vision Pro and its headset is Apple’s way of embarking in a major way into virtual reality. It offers many benefits and creates an experience that may be unlike any other platform they have previously sold. To that end, moments later Disney CEO Bob Iger presented on stage at this conference to share that Disney will be making its Disney+ content available on the new platform on Day 1 when this device is sold at the Apple Store. But there is much more to this in terms of what could be offered. All the while, this foray into partnering with Apple is juxtaposition to Disney’s recent decision to layoff many of the people involved with developing product for the Metaverse. So is Disney moving into artificial reality? We’ll consider that question along with whether Disney’s involvement suggests that Apple and Disney may merge as one corporation.
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At Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) today, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that Disney+ will be available on the tech giant’s new Apple Vision Pro at launch. The announcement came moments after Apple unveiled its new AR headset. The headset includes a movie theater option that offers the image of a full and large screen when watching TV shows and movies.
Bob Iger was introduced by Tim Cook and began by hearkening to Disney’s 100th anniversary and how innovation and storytelling has been at the heart of this company for so many years. Then he went on to say:
“It’s a privilege to be here for this momentous event…We’re constantly in search of new ways to entertain, inform and inspire our fans by combining extraordinary creativity with groundbreaking technology to create truly remarkable experiences. And we believe Apple Vision Pro is a revolutionary platform that can make our vision a reality. The first time I tried Apple Vision Pro the thing that struck me the most was how it could allow us to create deeply personal experiences that bring our fans closer to the characters they love and more deeply immersed in our stories. This platform will allow us to bring Disney to our fans in ways that were previously impossible. We’re tremendously excited to bring you this sneak peek of just some of the things we’ve been dreaming up.”
The following were then showed with text and descriptions below:
What If all the things we thought were impossible were suddenly possible?
[Showcased Disney films on Disney+ via the headset]
You could experience your favorite stories in unexpected ways.
[See multiple films at one time. Look at apps that would share with search individually places within the film, such as the planet Tatooine]
Or in unbelievable places.
[Create your own setting for watching those films, kind of like a drive-in theater on the moon of Endor].
You could do more than just watch sports. You could be at the game without leaving home. Or be part of the action as never before.
[Go back and forth between several sports events. Bring up the stats you want. Replay the top plays you want. Replay key events from a 3D view.]
What if you could travel on a National Geographic adventure from your couch?
[Physically go under water to see turtles swim]
Or if your imaginary friends weren’t quite so imaginary?
[Mickey jumping off of a photo frame and into your living room]
What if you could bring Disney World into your world?
[Create a parade route for the Main Street Electrical Parade by bringing up attractions like Cinderella Castle around it]
And what if you could become a super hero, and seek the answer to the ultimate question, “What If”…
Space, time, reality. It’s more than a a prism of endless possibilities imperceptible to most, but not to you.
[The Watcher shares these words as he hands you an infinity stone that fits on your cuff, thus enabling you to interact in new ways].
“We’re so proud to yet again be partnering the greatest storytelling company in the world with the most innovative technology company in the world to bring you real life magic,” Iger said during the keynote. “These are just a few of the ways we can bring Disney into your world with Apple Vision Pro and we’re looking forward to sharing more in the coming months.”
Let’s consider some key points out of this message:
- Storytelling matters in an environment such as this one.
- Disney isn’t the most innovative technology company, but partnered can bring real life magic
- Real life magic means more than just watching films. It’s the interaction in this space that makes this work.
- There are many divisions of Disney that could benefit from this potential business:
- ESPN–Probably not going away soon
- Disney Interactive Studios
- Existing Intellectual Property Portfolios like Star Wars, Marvel and Pixar
- Kids Clubs on Disney Cruise
- National Geographic Tours
- Importantly, the Disney Parks–What if Stitch Great Escape Became a Platform for This?
What’s The Bigger Opportunity?
Disney has already led out in unique ways in terms of creating high tech/high touch experiences. Turtle Talk with Crush or Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor are just some examples. But the Metaverse is even bigger. As I’ve shared in other podcasts, the metaverse is a network of 3D virtual worlds focused on connections that occur socially, economically and so forth. What was displayed today was definitely associated with all that is happening in the Metaverse.
The Metaverse can show up in ways described today with the new Apple Vision Pro. But there are somethings Disney can do that others can’t do.
So Why Dump the Metaverse Team at Disney?
We don’t have all the answers, but here are some factors to consider:
Bob Chapek embraced work on the Metaverse. That may not play out well optically.
Yet, in contrast, when Bob Iger left Disney, he personally invested not only in Genies, which lets users create their own digital avatars for use in virtual worlds, but became part of the board. He too was embracing this new world.
At the end of March Disney layed off its cross-divisional Next Generation Storytelling & Consumer Experiences group, which encompassed the Mouse House’s metaverse ambitions, and a group that was supposedly cross-divisional. They showcased work-in-progress activities at D23 last summer. But when I inquired about efforts at the parks, I was told There is another that is associated with the parks.
Moving forward on this platform, there are many areas of opportunity:
Some say that AR and the Metaverse was a fad and that AI, Artificial Intelligence is the new focus. New York Times shared “The metaverse investment fad — it came and went, and now people are focused on A.I.,” said Doug Creutz, an analyst at Cowen & Company. “The people who were hopping on it because it was a sexy thing to talk about have hopped back off.”
Does This Mean Disney Might Merge with Apple?
When the iPod premiered Bob Iger appeared on stage with Steve Jobs to announce that the company would be making its films and ABC television offerings available on iTunes for use on the iPod. This was a first step that paved the way toward the purchase of Pixar. But such a step did not pave the way for Disney to be acquired by Apple. In retrospect, it’s hard to think of the iPod and Disney being the thing that made or broke that platform. Disney’s announcement today is the same. It’s important, but there are many other uses that will come out of this platform that will have nothing to do with Disney. To put all your money on purchasing Disney is in a way to put aside all those other options, apps, features and facets of what this will become.
Souvenirs For You and Your Organization
These kinds of experiences offer lessons for each of us. Consider the following:
- Bob Iger was in the right place at the right time for this announcement. This moment would not have occurred with Bob Chapek. Are you in the right place at the right time?
- This moment simply furthers Disney’s 100 year commitment to progressing what they do best (storytelling) with greater and improved technologies. What do you do best and how are you using technology to help get you there? How does technology itself help you re-think the products & services you provide?
- Synergy is 1+1=3. Disney working with Apple provides a synergy greater than its individual parts. How are you working with others to create greater synergy?
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