Vision Pro briefing: Apple’s new billion-dollar business

The magic money tree sometimes needs a little cultivation, which is precisely what Apple’s been doing for the last few years as it prepared for Vision Pro. Now, with Vision Pro pre-orders under way, it has built a billion-dollar business it didn’t have before.

How many Vision Pro devices has Apple sold?

Estimates vary about sales. Before the official introduction last week, some experts speculated just 80,000 units would be made available. But during pre-order weekend, Apple analyst Ming Chi Kuo claimed Apple might have sold up to 180,000 units since the device was made available for pre-sale on Friday.

Vision Pro is a billion-dollar business

Kuo’s estimated 180,000 sales at $3,500 per unit means Vision Pro has already generated hundreds of millions of dollars to shore up Apple’s FYQ2 income.

During the year, Kuo expects Apple to move up to 500,000 units, which means the company has effectively added yet another billion-dollar business to its portfolio. That’s a good starting point as Apple plots a path to a lower-cost version in 2025.

Where is Vision Pro in the industry?

What that means in the context of the wider VR industry is interesting. The market is involves sales of roughly 8 million units a year. “Apple’s already making a dent in its own category in year one,” noted Bank of America analyst Wamsi Mohan. “We think over time this is going to be a real game changer.”

Order now, get Vision Pro in…March

There are still weeks to go before the device arrives. It won’t actually ship/be available in stores until February 2. If you pre-order a Vision Pro today, it’s likely you won’t receive it until March, or even later.

When will the product hit stores outside the US?

Kuo has claimed Apple is likely to expand availability outside the US before WWDC 2024 in June.

What about importing a Vision Pro?

There’s already a growing number of people trying to get hold of a Vision Pro outside the US. In China, people are paying twice as much for them on the grey market, and on eBay we’re seeing big prices appear.

Don’t be too hasty on imports, however, as Apple has published a FAQ that warns the experience may be restricted, principally because voice input, App Store, purchases, and support are limited to US accounts. Some apps might also be US-only, and Zeiss lenses are also only available in the US.

What Apple thinks Vision Pro is for

In a video shared with Apple employees, Apple Vice Presidents Mike Rockwell and Alan Dye talked about where they anticipate the new product will be most useful.

“It’s the closest thing to being there in person that you can possibly have,” Rockwell told employees. “It changes the way you collaborate and is very different from videoconferencing as we know it.”

Rockwell and Dye anticipate the systems will be used in medicine, engineering, and education. The company also has a team actively exploring enterprise and education implementations. That’s also why it is inevitable Apple will support MDM on the device.

Developer opportunity: A chance to build a brand

New Vision Pro customers are early adopters, so they won’t precisely be a consumer crowd, but they’ll want to stretch the envelope with their new device. That’s an opportunity.

Trust me, each time Apple introduces a new platform there’s a fresh opportunity for new developers with original ideas to build big brands if they hit the nascent zeitgeist.

That limited chance usually declines as all the envelopes are stretched and the big developers climb aboard — but the chance is right there, right now on Vision Pro.

What about Xcode?

The new and stable visionOS SDK is available now in Xcode 15.2. The stable release follows months of testing and includes a simulator mode developers can use to test apps for compatibility when they don’t have access to the hardware.

(Believe it or not, most developers live outside the US, so they can’t test on hardware outside of Apple’s labs.)

How many apps are available?

Recent data from AppFigures claims there are 250+ native third-party apps available now — and the velocity of these releases is accelerating.

With a view on what will be a core market of professionals, Cisco, Webex and Zoom  have introduced apps; Microsoft will offer Office; and Apple says around 1 million iOS and iPad OS apps will work quite happily in windows on the device.

Spotify, Netflix, and YouTube have not published Vision Pro apps, but you can access them using the browser in Vision Pro.

Some people should not use Vision Pro

Way back when all the Vision Pro speculation began, I warned of the potential impact these things might have on health. Apple warns that customers with some medical conditions should get advice before using Vision Pro as detailed here.

Winners and losers are on the block

The VR/AR industry Apple insists it isn’t in (it likes to say it is exploring “spatial computing”) has slowed to a crawl ever since Vision Pro was unveiled last summer.

Expectation pulled the oxygen from the business, and now Apple’s hardare is here, we can expect more companies to emulate ByteDance and delay or cancel planned introductions in the space pending more business clarity.

How to get fitted for Vision Pro

Apple has developed a fitting solution that uses the camera on your iPhone to measure you for the appropriate headband. This isn’t always 100% accurate, so the company is permitting free replacements of these components when you visit the Apple Store to get your device. There’s also a personal fitting service at Apple Stores, including a 25-minute demo to help customers get to grips with how to use Vision Pro.

How much does a Vision Pro headset cost to repair?

Put it this way, Apple’s most expensive repair for the product without AppleCare will set you back up to $2,399.

Apple Care Plus protection for Vision Pro costs $499, in exchange for which you get unlimited repairs and a replacement device while you wait for repair to happen.

Not to put too fine a point on it but it’s unlikely you’ll find an independent repair shop anywhere to fix these things, so if you plan to use them a lot, get AppleCare. 

How much does Vision Pro weigh?

Vision Pro weighs 1.3 to 1.4 pounds, depending on what Light Seal and headband you use. This could become uncomfortable for some users after extensive use.

What is the battery life?

You’ll get 2.5 hours of battery playback. However, you can use the device while the battery is charging, and you can also charge your battery from a portable power bank via USB-C.

Specifications we didn’t know before

In the last week, Apple has confirmed several specifications that you can read about in full here.

Highlights include:

  • An M2 chip with an 8-core CPU (4 performance cores and 4 efficiency), a 10-core GPU, and a 16-core NPU. 16GB of unified memory.
  • Micro-OLED displays that support refresh rates of 90Hz, 96Hz, and 100Hz.
  • A stereoscopic  3D main camera system with an 18 mm, ƒ/2.00 aperture and 6.5 stereo megapixels.
  • Support for Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.3.
  • Six external cameras, four eye-tracking cameras, TrueDepth, LiDAR, and a range of sensors, including for ambient light.
  • Headset authentication by iris scan.
  • AirPlay to beam some of what you are experiencing in Vision Pro to other devices, such as iPhones or Apple TV (though only at 720p).

What Vision Pro accessories exist?

You can expect a range of accessories from third-party manufacturers at some point. Meanwhile, Apple sells the following accessories:

  • Travel Case: $199.
  • Spare batteries: $199.
  • ZEISS optical inserts: from $99.
  • Light Seal: $199. (A Light Seal cushion is available for $29). Apple has 25 different models of Light Seal, and if you plan on sharing Vision Pro with others you might need several.
  • Solo Knit Band: $99.
  • Dual Loop band: $99.

What storage sizes are available?

Apple is following its usual strategy in selling three Vision Pro models, distinguished by storage capacity. They are available as follows:

  • 256GB – $3,499
  • 512GB – $3,699
  • 1TB – $3,899

There are two Vision Pro guided tour videos to watch

Apple has published two key videos to support the release. One is a guided tour of what the device is like to use — this runs 10 minutes and is worth a look. (The idea that your existing Panorama photos taken with an iPhone can be explored in a spatial way was interesting.) Apple CEO Tim Cook also shared a short video consisting of behind-the-scenes glances at how the Vision Pro is made.

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Copyright © 2024 IDG Communications, Inc.


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