A bold but uncertain step into a new computer age

Apple’s unveiling of the groundbreaking Vision Pro headset marks a significant milestone, comparable in importance to the historic debut of the iPhone in 2007.

For the tech giant, this marks the dawn of a transformative computing age comparable to the advent of personal computers and smartphones. Despite its potential, the road to widespread adoption of this headset is likely to be a long one.

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Vision Pro

(Photo: Josh Edelson / AFP)

The Vision Pro is redefining price boundaries, topping the market at a whopping $3,499, a whopping $2,500 more than Meta’s closest competitor. This exorbitant price makes the headset a coveted status symbol, only accessible to dedicated and wealthy Apple enthusiasts and app developers.

Additionally, Apple’s meticulous design efforts have resulted in a visually stunning headset that outperforms any competing product. The integration of eye movements and hand gestures as control mechanisms eliminates the need for clunky remote controls and makes the game even more attractive.

However, wearing comfort is a challenge as it can be awkward to keep a device of this size and weight on your face for long periods of time.

Additionally, the headset’s attention-grabbing nature raises uncertainties about whether individuals would willingly venture out with such a flashy device, an aspect Apple may not have addressed during the launch event for security reasons.

To increase convenience and minimize weight, Apple has integrated an external battery that is connected to the device via a cable. However, this arrangement requires the battery to be carried separately, either in a pocket or elsewhere, which can be quite awkward.

As for the battery life, the usage time is only two hours before a charge is needed.

The lack of a convincing “killer app” poses another challenge. During the unveiling, Apple presented several interesting use cases, including multi-screen multitasking, immersive 3D movie experiences, and mindfulness exercises with 3D objects.

However, it’s still uncertain whether any of these applications will truly propel Vision Pro into mainstream success.

With these challenges in mind, Apple has recognized the issues at hand. The company has reportedly set itself modest goals and aims to manufacture fewer than one million units of the Vision Pro this year.

In comparison, Apple sold over 200 million iPhones last year. This launch should be viewed as a first step, paving the way for future devices that will be more affordable, compact, and aimed at a broad audience rather than a more narrowly defined subset of avid Apple loyalists.

Apple’s current focus is to involve the developer community to create apps for its headset. The iPhone’s success has been largely credited to the App Store, and Apple hopes to repeat that triumph with the Vision Pro.

To accomplish this, the company strategically unveiled the headset during its annual developer conference, WWDC, which draws developers from around the world to its Cupertino headquarters.

By aligning the announcement with this event, Apple hopes to spark developer excitement and pave the way for a thriving ecosystem of apps for Vision Pro. Maybe one day in the future there will be such a store that generates revenues that can compete with the traditional app store.

The timing of Apple’s announcement is notable as it marks its entry into the augmented reality (AR) market amid a period of decline. Research firm IDC forecasts a 21% decline in sales of virtual reality (VR) headsets in 2023.

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A bit awkward?

(Photo: Screenshot)

The massive hype surrounding the Metaverse, which peaked when Facebook rebranded to Meta in late 2021, has subsided, giving way to a sense of urgency around artificial intelligence (AI) developments, though Apple CEO Tim Cook has said so not specifically mentioned term “metaverse”.

When it comes to changing trends, Apple is the company that has the skills. With its elegant product designs and remarkable marketing skills, Apple inspires consumer enthusiasm and is an industry luminary.

It has the transformative power to redefine entire product categories, as evidenced by the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and AirPods. In the coming months, we can expect numerous announcements related to augmented reality, possibly even from companies that have previously shown minimal interest in the space.

The unveiling of this headset always raises the question: “What practical purpose does it serve?”

Undoubtedly a crucial question, but it’s worth remembering that many asked the same question when Apple introduced the first iPhone in 2007. What followed was a monumental revolution in computing that profoundly impacted our lives in ways difficult to quantify.

Our reliance on computers and smartphones as the primary computing platforms has ingrained a certain mindset that makes it difficult to imagine alternative forms. However, it is important to recognize that smart headsets have the potential to overcome the limitations of current devices while opening up new and unforeseen possibilities.

Even if the presented headset is not a real successor to the iPhone, it will probably be the first step on a worthy journey.