Here's what's at stake for Apple ahead of its first product launch event of the year


Apple CEO Tim Cook takes a selfie with an attendee during a special event on September 10, 2019 in the Steve Jobs Theater on Apple’s Cupertino, California campus.Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

Apple will hold its first product launch event of the year on Tuesday.

On deck: New iPads Pro are expected to be the primary new hardware products Apple unveils. While Apple’s iPad business showed lackluster growth in the mid-2010s, it has seen a boom over the last year as consumers turned to tablets as they worked and played from home during the pandemic.

But beyond the new gadgets, Apple is facing a decade of increased competition and courtroom battles on numerous fronts from the likes of Facebook, Epic Games, Spotify and lawmakers and regulators around the world. It may feel like just another iPad event. But there’s a lot of tension bubbling under the surface at Apple. And a lot of it could threaten Apple’s next wave of growth as it expands into more digital services and new forms of computing technology.

Here’s a quick look at the conflicts coming to a head as we head into Tuesday’s Apple event:

Apple vs. Facebook

Facebook has been waging an all-out PR war against Apple over an impending change to the iPhone software that will give users the option to block apps from tracking them for targeted ads. Facebook has said the move will damage small businesses that rely on advertising to provide free digital services and software. Apple has said the change will give iPhone owners a better understanding of how apps track them and give customers the option to block that tracking.

But the bitterness between the two companies goes much deeper than that.

Both companies are working on technology they believe will usher in the next wave of computing after the smartphone, thanks to computerized glasses that utilize augmented reality. Facebook is expected to release its first pair of AR glasses as soon as this year. Apple could launch its first headset in 2022. If the platform takes off, you’ll have both Facebook and Apple duking it out to dominate AR, much like Apple battled