Apple’s Vision Pro headset is the biggest new product the company has shown off in nearly a decade, yet there are serious warnings that it may not be as big a success as Apple wants. Even for a company that’s good at taking out the proverbial rabbit like Apple, this can be a struggle.
Read journalist Mark Gurman’s latest Power On newsletter and the picture looks grim. Gurman explains that Apple is looking for its “next big thing” to help restore revenue after a flat (or declining) quarter. Yet Gurman believes that “it is becoming clear that [Vision Pro] No one will become a big money maker for some time.”
Is he right? Well, if Apple wants to drastically increase its earnings, a $3,500 mixed-reality headset might not be the way to do it (at least on paper). After all, plenty of companies have tried to woo consumers with high-end headsets — all of them priced significantly less than the Vision Pro — and none have really caught on in the mainstream. Apple is trying to walk on a path littered with the remains of those who came before.
The company’s approach probably isn’t helping. Instead of moving forward with a rushed product full of compromises, Apple prefers to bide its time and launch something that is far superior to everything else. This has worked incredibly well in the past, but convincing regular Joes to spend $3,500 on an extremely niche product is a different challenge altogether.
Apple Watch method
Gurman raised another issue: The way Apple plans to launch the Vision Pro could hurt its sales. You’ll have to make an appointment to test it out, and it’ll only launch in the US at first. It’s a lot more friction than just going to an Apple Store and paying for one of the best iPhones.
Of course, Apple did something similar when it first launched the Apple Watch. Since the product was positioned as a luxury fashion item, Apple wanted to create an atmosphere of scarcity and affluence by selling it in high-end stores and requiring you to book an appointment ahead of time. Yet when it became clear that this approach was not working the company quickly changed its stance.
According to Gurman, that course correction likely won’t happen with the Vision Pro. After all, headsets come with many variables, including headband size and prescription lenses. And many people will need convincing that a device like the Vision Pro costs $3,500.
All of these factors are suitable for a one-on-one session with an Apple Store employee. And if that’s the case, stores aren’t likely to see the product flying off the shelves any time soon.
taking the long view
It seems Apple knows the Vision Pro isn’t going to sell in big numbers. Both the Financial Times and Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, citing supply chain sources, have estimated that the company will sell about 400,000 units in the first year. That’s about four per day for each store in the US, the only country where the Vision Pro will be sold until the end of 2024.
Of course, Apple has a lot of money, and may be willing to subsidize it for a while to help speed up the Vision Pro. But the company does not have infinite patience.
This means it’s hard to be overly optimistic about the Vision Pro’s immediate future. I don’t think Apple will panic at the first sign of trouble – for example, Gurman reported before the Vision Pro was unveiled that Apple executives were considering it for a long time – but Apple will want sales to accelerate. as soon as possible. With the current planned approach, this may be difficult to achieve.
Changes are apparently coming, with a cheaper headset reportedly in the works. And Apple has a habit of surprising people with products that sell beyond anyone’s expectations – just look at the initially ridiculed Apple Watch. Can Vision Pro repeat the same trick? I wouldn’t rule it out completely, but there’s still a long way to go.