Apple’s Vision Pro headset may be one of the company’s most advanced high-tech devices in years, packed with futuristic technology that’s far superior to what even the best VR headsets have produced. From the fascinating demos to the overwhelmingly positive response from developers, it’s clear that Apple is making a pretty remarkable device.
Yet despite all this, there is a problem. Not only will the Vision Pro be incredibly expensive – expect to pay a hefty $3,500 – but Apple hasn’t announced an alternative headset with a more attractive price tag.
Sure, a cheaper version is rumored to be in the works, but we’re not expecting it until late 2025. There would be only one game in town for almost two years.
So, when the Vision Pro launches in early 2024, you’ll either have to shell out the cash or, more likely, Apple’s headset will be hopelessly out of reach for you and most of its potential customers. Apple is severely limiting product reach and threatening to repeat one of its biggest mistakes in recent years.
history repeats itself
This situation is exactly the same as what happened in 2018 with another Apple product: the original HomePod. This high-end speaker boasted incredible audio features, but it was very expensive, even though it could do everything. Like the Vision Pro, Apple didn’t offer a more affordable HomePod, so you had to choose between an expensive device and nothing at all. In the end, a large number of people chose the latter option.
With rumors flying around of poor sales, it seemed that average users didn’t care about premium sound quality as much as they did about a good, inexpensive speaker. When Apple finally introduced one in the form of the HomePod mini, it sold so well that the company abandoned the original HomePod altogether. Even though the second-generation HomePod is finally out, there’s no doubt that it’s in the shadow of its younger sibling.
My concern is that the same experience may occur again with the Vision Pro. By setting the price so high, Apple risks hurting its own product unless a cheaper alternative comes along to save the day. But if that happens, how many customers are going to spend $3,500 on a high-end headset when the toned-down version works perfectly well for most users?
It’s unlikely that Apple will ditch the high-end Vision Pro altogether – after all, rumors have claimed that a second-generation flagship model is already being developed. But Apple’s focus here is apparently on reducing size and weight, not cutting costs. Either Apple is overconfident or badly misguided.
not learning from the past
There’s a reason the Vision Pro is so expensive. Apple’s vision is to make the best products, and in this case, it has done exactly that. The Vision Pro is far more advanced than rival headsets. In fact, reports have shown that research and production will cost so much that Apple won’t make a profit on it, even with its $3,500 price tag.
Apple is betting that customers will be so impressed with its headset that they’ll overlook any price concerns. Often, this attitude works well. After all, iPhones are getting more expensive, but are selling in unprecedented numbers.
But it’s a different kettle of fish when you’re talking about a $3,500 niche product versus a $1,000 iPhone 15 Pro. One is a device you might pick up and use a few times a week, while the other is a device you’ll interact with multiple times every day. It’s not that hard to convince people to spend $1,000; The same thing to do when the first cost will be $3,500 of course.
The next few years are going to be crucial for Apple’s shiny new headsets. In the time between the launch of the Vision Pro and its cheaper sibling hitting the market, we’ll learn just how much customers are willing to tolerate that $3,500 price tag. If they’re reluctant to bite, we could see HomePod history repeating itself.