Apple’s Vision Pro heralds the era of spatial computing

Tim Cook’s $3,499 “next big thing” has an inherently limited market, but that’s not the point

Seen from the broader perspective it deserves, however, Apple’s Vision Pro represents so much more — the dawn of an entirely new breed of transformative technology and mass-market opportunity that Cook dubbed “spatial computing.” Spatial computing is essentially the film Minority Report brought to life, three-dimensional computing detached from the confines of flat physical screens. And the Vision Pro is just a taste of what’s sure to come in the years to come, as the product’s form factor shifts from today’s high-end, but still claustrophobic ski goggle, to something more stylish and lighter – think about it Ralph Lauren glasses.

It will take years for that transition to happen, but Apple will eventually pull it off. And when Cook and his Cupertino team finally build it, we’ll be thrilled to dive into their three-dimensional, virtual “Field of Dreams.”

On Monday, I joined a small group of leading immersive technology, media and entertainment executives and experts, chosen by Metaverse expert Bob Cooney (in the best sense, XR’s PT Barnum) on a Malibu beach to share the with Apple’s highly anticipated launch track case. The general vibe was electric as it unfolded live. What began with collective anticipation ended in frenzied applause of congratulations and enthusiasm for what Apple had created.

While surveying the scene and still editing Tim Cook’s demo, Evan Helda, the principal spatial computing specialist at Amazon Web Services, reflected in awe at what we had seen: “We have just witnessed something life changing has. defining moment in the history of technology.”

Pierre-Stuart Rostain, Head of Partnerships at the European VRDays Foundation, who traveled all the way from the Netherlands, agreed: “It’s not a headset. It’s a spatial computer.” Those who missed that missed the point, he added.

Yes, this crew of XR experts agreed that Version 1 of the Apple Vision Pro is designed to attract a limited audience of early adopters, the believers who will buy anything and everything with an Apple logo on it. Its price of $3,499 caused audible amazement even among this well-heeled, tech-savvy crowd. Joanna Popper, CAA’s Chief Metaverse Officer, joked that the decal shock for version 1 was intentional “so that everyone has time to save their money” for versions 2, 3 and beyond.

Several others pointed out that gamers are almost an afterthought in Cook’s presentation. Longtime gaming expert Amy Allison, who is also a board member of Women In Games International, summed up the likely overall reaction from the gaming community: “I expected the minimum and got it.”

But serial tech entrepreneur Nanea Reeves, CEO of Tripp, a startup focused on creating immersive, mood-altering experiences, stressed the real long-term opportunity here. “Spatial computing will be as big as mobile,” she said without hesitation. Ultimately, they believe edge delivery, battery-free wear, dynamic vision correction, and an everyday, goggle-like form factor will lead to the coveted mass adoption.

It’s precisely these sorts of transformational possibilities in this VR, AR, and XR acronym soup that led Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg to distance himself from the toxic name of his original creation and embrace the heavily meta-based “meta.” But while Apple wasn’t the first to launch it, it’s the model that almost everyone at the Malibu meet believes will eventually hit the market.

This is Apple’s MO, after all. It’s usually not the first. But it tends to be most successful in both implementation and mass adoption. A case in point is the iPhone—not the first smartphone—nor the iPod before it.

As we all exited Cooney’s IRL event, a total experience that also included award-winning fine dining and wine tasting from Sonoma’s award-winning Halleck Vineyard, Amazon’s Helda summed up what it meant to those in attendance.

“Everyone here has dedicated their careers to immersion — sort of 10 years of our careers,” he said. And Cook finally gave them the big reward they were waiting for.

“Now we call it spatial computing,” he told me. “And Apple did it.”

And yes, as Steve Jobs would have said: one more thing. What did it really mean that Bob Iger was in Cupertino to share the stage with Cook?

Content once brought Disney and Apple closer: After selling Pixar to Disney, Jobs served on the company’s board until his death in 2011, after which Iger joined Apple’s board and stayed on until 2019. Disney’s support was crucial, as iTunes expanded into selling TV, and the companies remained close ties under Cook. Discussion of an Apple-Disney combo only arose after Iger’s return to the CEO post last year.

Sure, Disney content for spatial entertainment is beautiful. But Disney’s move to Apple Park sounds even better. Well, that’s spatial thinking.

To learn more, visit Peter’s Creative Media company at and follow him on Twitter @pcsathy.