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22 May, 2023
4 min time to read

Thousands of Apple employees are working together on the mixed reality headset. Nevertheless, certain key names play a particularly important role in this seven-year project, which may be the most ambitious and risky product launch in the company's history.

Bloomberg has listed the top executives who are behind the creation of the mixed reality device. The list includes those who are no longer part of the company, but their contributions continue to influence Apple's product strategy.

Here are the names who helped steer Apple into the world of mixed reality:

Mike Rockwell: Rockwell has been in charge of the product since 2016, managing its development. He played a key role in shaping the headset concept and the entire Technology Development Group, covering everything from hardware to software and services. While doubts exist about the potential success of this product in the marketplace, some have expressed optimism solely because of Rockwell's involvement.

Jeff Williams: Williams, Apple's chief operating officer, has been heavily involved in the development of the headset over the past few years. As a prominent candidate to replace Cook, he has gained the trust of the current CEO in the task of ensuring the success of the new product. Williams coordinates Apple's design team, including a user interface team that has worked through the device's various usage scenarios and overall concept. His team is also responsible for the production of the device itself, which the company internally recognizes as the most complex product Apple has ever created.

Dan Riccio: Riccio, as Rockwell's direct manager, serves as the link between the technology development team and Apple's senior management. For the past two years he has focused entirely on working on the headset, after a long period as head of hardware development at Apple.

Paul Meade: Meade, as Rockwell's longest-standing helper, is in charge of developing the device's hardware. He was previously one of the leading iPhone hardware specialists until 2017, after which he focused on the headset, setting his sights on turning the concept into a marketable product.

Jony Ive: Even though Ive had moved on to part-time work at Apple by the time the headset project began, he was heavily involved at the start of the project. He insisted on a portable device design without an external base station.

Greg Joswiak: Joswiak, who heads the company's marketing department, is one of the most staunch supporters of the headset among Apple's executive team. He's the one tasked with convincing consumers to buy the $3,000 device.

Phil Schiller: Schiller, Joswiak's former boss, though not as heavily involved in new product development as before, will still be responsible for introducing the Apple headset to the public. This will be the first time the world will see a long-discussed product, so expectations are high.

Frank Casanova: Casanova leads the headset's marketing side. Back in 2019, he was responsible for Apple's augmented reality efforts related exclusively to the iPhone. Previously, he was also in charge of partner marketing for the iPhone, promoting the device with carriers.

Kim Vorrath: Like Meade, Vorrath was brought in on the headset project to help bring the device to market. She serves as the lead manager of the engineering program on this project, which means she is responsible for ensuring that the team meets deadlines. She also oversees the quality of the final product.

Jeff Norris: Norris was one of the early contributors, moving from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 2017 to help develop "killer app" for the device. At NASA, Norris used virtual reality to control spacecraft.

Johny Srouji: Srouji, Apple's chief chip specialist, is responsible for the M2 processor and other user components of the headset. Srouji was skeptical about the project, internally comparing it to a science experiment.

Shannon Gans: Gans is responsible for mixed reality content for the device and manages work with Hollywood figures. For two decades, Gans led animation and virtual reality studios before becoming executive producer of an animated series Jon Stewart at HBO.

Geoff Stahl: Stahl is responsible for much of the software that will run on the headset, including the new xrOS operating system. He is also involved in the development of apps and the game engine for the device.

Of course, Tim Cook is ultimately responsible for the product. The final version of the device differs from his original vision, but his job now is to bring the product to its final fruition.

After more than a decade running Apple, this device could ultimately either strengthen or undermine his legacy. The company is betting that it’s the former.