With the introduction of AR/VR glasses Vision Pro Apple would like to once again use its competence in the field “not new, but right” and has a name for it: Spatial Computer. Even if the Apple product presentations are always designed in such a way that any disadvantages are never mentioned, Vision Pro actually seems to have the potential to bring a type of device that has only been perceived as a marginal phenomenon to a larger audience and to change the way we use computers in the long term change.
But there are questions and clear obstacles. Despite the impressive demonstration in the Apple Keynote, success does not seem to be taken for granted. Ok, it never was. The iPhone, iPad and the Apple Watch were also quite controversial when they were launched. Even industry insiders were tempted to say that the iPhone could never be a success. BAM! – In your face. The same, albeit on a smaller scale, applied to the iPad and especially the Watch, with which Apple has risen to become the largest watch manufacturer in the world in just a few years.
At first glance, the Vision Pro, whose technical features I only want to mention in passing (everything is in detail in the other MTN reports), looks like it was borrowed directly from a science fiction film. Gesture control reminiscent of “Minority Report”. A virtual reality that looks (at least in Apple’s presentation) as if created on the Enterprise’s holodeck. Mixed Reality capabilities like you’ve never seen before. 3D sound implementation. And a virtual image of the wearer himself, in order to be able to establish personal contact with people in the area or in video chats. – Crazy!
I’ll have no hesitation in admitting that I’m very impressed with the opportunities that have been promised. For example, I imagine using the Vision Pro in addition to my Mac in order to be able to use a huge virtual screen. Or to experience films in a dimension that makes my 75″ TV look like candlelight. That is, as long as everything works as well in practice as Apple has demonstrated.
And that brings us to the question marks of the Vision Pro future.
The biggest stumbling block to the new technology is its price tag. Starting at $3,500. That means at least 4,000 euros in this country. Plus any upgrades that Apple charges handsomely for. That could be more memory, but also a larger battery or even different headbands. There are no limits to the imagination of marketing experts.
In any case, around 4,000 euros is a completely different house number than around 600 euros for a new smartphone or even 1,500 euros for an iPad. The equation is simple: the higher the entry price, the smaller the number of possible customers. The Vision Pro headset will definitely not become a mass phenomenon, if only because of its price. This does not mean that large quantities are not sold. In relation to other consumer goods in the middle four-digit price range, Vision Pro will certainly be sold in quantities that others can only dream of. Apple simply has a large and well-funded user base for this.
For example, the major TV manufacturers also offer high-end devices in the middle to upper four-digit, even five-digit price range. However, the best-selling devices by far are well under 2,000, even more under 1,000 euros.
As long as the Vision concept cannot be manufactured at significantly lower prices, it will almost certainly not become a mass phenomenon at iPhone level.
Another issue standing in the way of iPhone-like adoption is the way Vision Pro is used. A kind of “diving goggles” with a leash and rechargeable battery for your pocket that lasts only two hours – shorter than “Avatar – Way of Water” in 3D. On the plane or in a coach, that might still be okay. People also wear strange sleeping masks that are visually not dissimilar to Vision Pro. But with the current state of the art, it seems unlikely that all the smombies staring at the smartphone will suddenly turn into spacy-looking people who, thanks to augmented reality, can see the street again when using WhatsApp. Especially since Vision Pro has no cellular features at all at the start and also requires an iPhone as a companion for mobile communications.
And there are many more unanswered questions that only practice will be able to answer unequivocally. As if there were:
- How good is the representation of the stereo displays actually?
- How reliable is gesture control and is it as versatile as other input devices?
- Is mixed reality always presented so realistically that you don’t stumble in your surroundings and could even be out and about in a busy urban environment?
- How much do eyeglass wearers have to pay for fitted Zeiss corrective lenses?
- How is the actual wearing comfort?
- Are fast head movements possible without the display jerking or without noticeable latencies and discomfort?
- How good is the virtual external representation of the wearer’s eyes and is that accepted by bystanders, or is it only perceived as creepy?
- Can the 3D image of the Vision Pro carrier convince in video conferences?
- Is the 3D sound really as spatially realistic as promised by Apple?
These and certainly many other points need to be clarified. Nevertheless, Apple seems to be involved Vision Pro to once again have raised a technology that previously existed only as a marginal phenomenon to a new level. The potential is huge. I counted myself among the clear doubters until the Vision Pro was presented. What can that be good for? do i need this Or to put it better: can I somehow use it sensibly for my work? After the presentation, I actually see opportunities for that. But the price is definitely a hurdle. At least for a debut work with many question marks, around 4,000 euros is a real stumbling block. Just like the unresolved questions for spectacle wearers. However, the addition “Pro” to the now announced Vision indicates that there could also be a slimmed-down version at lower prices in the not too distant future.
However, it will be some time before the decision can be made. The market launch is not announced until the beginning of 2024, and then only in the USA. By then, I’m sure some ambiguity will be cleared up and early adopters overseas will be sharing their experiences with the world. – I am excited.