Augmented reality (AR) is the new buzzword in the technology business, and one of the big beneficiaries of this trend may be Apple Inc. (AAPL), if Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s latest prediction proves true. The investment firm said in a research report this week that Apple’s entrance into the AR market could add $8 billion to its iPhones and App Store sales.
“We think AR apps will command a price premium,” wrote Wamsi Mohan, senior equity research analyst at BofAML, in a note to clients covered by CNBC. “We reiterate our Buy on strong capital returns, continued strong growth in Services revenues and AR providing yet another competitive advantage." BofAML raised its price target on Apple to $230 from $225, implying shares can gain an additional 2.2%. So far this year, shares of the Cupertino, California, iPhone marker are up 11.26%. (See also: Key Levels for Apple Stock in Second Half of 2018.)
With AR, virtual digital objects seemed to be placed into the real world via a device, be it a tablet or a smartphone. Nintendo’s Pokemon Go mobile game was one of the first to embrace AR and was hugely popular in 2016. With that game, players searched for video game characters throughout streets and public places around the globe.
Revenue Opportunity in the Billions
According to BofAML’s Mohan, the revenue opportunity for Apple in AR stands at between $6 billion and $8 billion from 2018 until 2020. Of that opportunity, the Wall Street analyst said $1 billion will come from AR apps. The rest will be driven by an increase in iPhone sales because of AR apps. The analyst said the revenue opportunity would grow to as much as $11 billion if Apple were to roll out AR eyewear. He noted that more than 1 billion Apple devices can support AR apps, making Apple’s iOS an “extremely attractive” for developers to work on. (See also: Apple: Theft Sheds Light on Self-Driving Car.)
In late March, the Financial Times, citing people with knowledge of Apple’s efforts, reported the company was picking up the pace in developing AR eyewear. The sources told the FT that about a year ago, Apple created a team to look at AR devices consumers would wear and is putting more resources toward those efforts with an eye toward launching a consumer product. The report noted a device is a year or more away.