Does Apple’s Vision Pro Headset Live Up to the Hype?

An XR Today analysis piece explores critical questions on the Vision Pro following Apple's WWDC event

Does Apple's Vision Pro Headset Live Up to the Hype - XR Today News
Mixed RealityAppleNews Analysis

Published: June 6, 2023

Demond Cureton

Tim Cook, Apple’s Chief Executive, debuted the Vision Pro on Monday evening to the heightened anticipation of tech fans worldwide. The product effectively recreated its biggest media hype from major iPhone and MacBook product launches.

Strangely marketed as an augmented reality (AR) device rather than mixed reality (MR), the device was ethereal in its presentation. Intricate yet groundbreaking designs. Zen-like user experiences (UX).

The Vision Pro is phenomenal and does live up to the hype at the design level in many ways. The ingenuity and careful attention to detail truly shine in the product’s functionality, boldness, and cosmetics.

But looks are not everything. Although massively impressed by the device, several questions began to arise. The market needs to explore the headset, without the fanfare, hype, and Cult of Mac, to determine its direction.

Price (Pain) Points

Notwithstanding the $3,499 price point, one must assess what makes Apple’s Vision Pro accessible, and to whom. At this price, Apple’s primary competitors are the Magic Leap 2, Microsoft’s HoloLens 2, and Varjo’s VR-3 — all enterprise headsets.

Many of the world’s midrange enterprise headsets like the Meta Quest Pro, HTC VIVE Elite XR, and Pico 4 Enterprise are priced well below $1,500. Meta even lowered the Quest Pro’s price to $1,099 after receiving backlash on its cost, with HTC VIVE pricing the Elite XR similarly.

This leaves Apple with the conundrum of understanding who is going to buy this product. The company must determine who can afford it, how they will use it in daily workflows, and for which enterprise use cases.

Doing so for both consumers and enterprise end users will avoid ‘white elephant’ syndrome, where massive, expensive projects are simultaneously impressive to audiences but ultimately impractical, or worse, infeasible.

The current market is less inclined to strap spatial computing devices to their faces for long durations, solely for productivity and entertainment, let alone a $3,499 one.

Instead, most Apple users could choose a MacBook Pro for sending emails and typing documents. Before donning such a headset, they may turn to their iPhones and MacBook Air laptops for FaceTime, Zoom, and Teams. iPads, iPhones, and AirPods will solve the music issue for the average consumer.

At this rate, the Vision Pro functions more like a concept design, rather than something aimed at a specific demographic. It will require a niche end user to justify spending over 350 Ben Franklins for its functionality.

Stalwart Apple users tend to spend more money on the company’s devices, which are a premium echelon in the tech market. However, Apple will need close to a decade to bring down its price point for mass adoption before developers can begin extrapolating a functional ecosystem for it.

A Meta Counteroffensive?

Apple also risks enabling its competitors with its current marketing strategy. One can only imagine Mark Zuckerberg outlining his strategy and studying how its rivals will launch their own solutions.

This will become a massive focus at the Meta Connect event in September, where the embattled billionaire is expected to reveal the Meta Quest 3.

It will likely sell for one-tenth to one-fifth of the price and keep the Quest headset series as the world’s top-selling immersive device due to its accessibility. This is something that all XR device manufacturers have stressed-—the need for accessibility, which, disappointingly, Tim Cook and Co did not exactly communicate.

Apple’s stock prices reflected this following the event. According to the Dow Jones data, Apple lost 0.3 percent at the product’s reveal. Shares fell from a record high of $184.74 to $180.87 in a matter of hours.

This is due to its pricing and release date, set for ‘next year,’ immediately putting off investors. Apple did not reveal a specific date, continuing the trend of open-ended hype cycles rather than offering clear, concise deadlines.

This comes amid numerous product delays, which have repeatedly caused Apple’s stock prices to teeter. Rival companies will exploit this to their advantage.

Conversely, Meta continues to invest in Reality Labs, despite facing immense setbacks and lower-than-expected profits. This will pay off via massive upgrades to Meta’s Horizon family of apps at the next Connect event.

Questions on XR Interoperability

Specifically, Meta implemented Microsoft, Adobe, and Zoom support for the Quest Pro in October last year. The company also did this while effectively communicating the need for interoperable XR and metaverse experiences.

Meta, HTC VIVE, Microsoft, Pico, and many others have also already answered the question of interoperability, allowing firms to install their device-agnostic application programme interfaces (APIs). This resolves the key issues centred on rapid deployment, device management, and scalability that enterprises desperately need.

Apple must address this if it wants the Vision Pro to become a truly enterprise-facing device, rather than a productivity suite competing for other devices in Apple’s product lineup. One would have to rely on Occam’s Razer when faced with enterprise, corporate, or consumer-based questions.

In the absence of physical controllers, it will also pose additional challenges as an enterprise device. How easily can a person achieve their workflows without expanded peripheral device support for computer-aided design (CAD) and architectural, engineering, and construction (AEC) professionals?

Biometric controls may work in its favour, but global workforces adopting the headset will test its limits over time.

Furthermore, can Apple integrate enterprise-focused platform on its headsets the same as Lenovo’s all-encompassing ThinkReality solution? Will it achieve the same interoperability that Meta, Pico, HTC VIVE, Valve, and many others have reached after adopting Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR2+ processors? Can it also compete with Varjo’s immensely capable XR-3 and Aero headsets, making it the most advanced enterprise-level headset?

Aside from next-generation computing power, Snapdragon processors are popular for their flourishing XR developer ecosystems. Apple has the potential but must leverage its massive developer community to do so.

Apple will likely shift its focus to building the ecosystem, at scale and over time, to compete with the industry’s mature developer platforms. It will also become locked out of these platforms due to its proprietary approach to hardware and software design.

This device needs to determine which of these challenges it aims to resolve; hence the need to become a solution.

Instead, Apple communicated that it would support developers in designing and porting apps to Apple’s ecosystem. In reality, it stated that it wanted people to work for it to develop its ecosystem, and not conversely.


From a personal perspective, I am both impressed and disappointed by the WWDC reveal. No mention of interoperability. No mention of building XR hardware or software standards. No mention of collaboration at the industry level. If the Vision Pro is to survive several generations, it must deepen its participation in the industry.

I hope Apple continues to build industry-wide partnerships like those with Unity, Disney, Zoom, and Microsoft. However, the market is still young and needs the same guidance a child needs from its parents.

Meta, HTC VIVE, and many other XR companies are already sitting at the tables of The Metaverse Standards Forum, the XR Association, and the XR4EUROPE. The XR industry is a community, operating together, to advance its aims, and cannot remain a closed-source endeavour. Apple must understand this to thrive in the market.

The views in this analysis piece are solely those of the author and do not reflect the XR Today brand, its partners, or affiliates.



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