Mixed Reality VR Brand Strategy

The Apple Vision Pro is down but not out, experts say


By Webb Wright, NY Reporter

April 25, 2024 | 5 min read

Following slow sales in the US, Apple is reportedly cutting back on production of its new mixed-reality headset. But mainstream appeal could be just around the corner.

Apple Vision Pro

Apple launched the Vision Pro in the US in February. / Adobe Stock

The Apple Vision Pro is not selling as well in the US as the company had initially hoped, according to a report from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. The slow pace of adoption signals a broader difficulty of introducing new technologies to a mainstream audience – but it’s not necessarily a death knell for the Vision Pro.

Apple has slowed down production of its Vision Pro headset following weaker-than-expected demand in the US, Kuo claims in his report, which was published on Medium. Kuo writes that the tech gaint now plans to ship between 400,000 and 450,000 units, rather than the minimum of 700,000 units that had been predicted in a “market consensus.” The Vision Pro has not yet been released outside of the US.

The headset was launched in the US in February and has yet to be released in other markets around the world. Reports from early users have been a mixed bag; many have praised the device’s technical capabilities while others have complained about its somewhat unwieldy form factor or balked at its hefty price tag. “There’s $3,500 worth of tech in the Vision Pro, but not $3,500 worth of value for the mass consumer, at least not yet,” says futurist and author Cathy Hackl.

The device’s modest performance in the US so far will likely prompt Apple to “take a conservative view of demand in non-US markets,” Kuo writes in his report.

Apple has described the Vision Pro as the company’s “first spatial computer” – a device that blends technologies like virtual reality and augmented reality to deliver a fully immersive, 3D user experience.

Despite the huge media attention the headset received at its launch, it remains something of a square peg in a round hole, a product without a clearly identified target audience. Unlike the iPhone, for which nearly every major brand has developed an app, only a few big players – such as Disney Plus – have launched digital experiences specifically tailored to the Vision Pro.

And while Apple has a long and decorated history as being a tastemaker – the Apple Watch and AirPods come to mind – the Vision Pro just doesn’t seem to (yet) have the hip factor; at present, someone wearing a Vision Pro out in public runs a very real risk of winding up as a meme.

Add to all of that the media buzz about the device’s slow US sales and it can be easy to write the Vision Pro off as a swing and a miss for Apple. But experts urge patience.

“With limited use cases at the moment, the Vision Pro is simply before its time,” says Mike Proulx, vice-president of Forrester’s CMO research team. “Once [virtual reality] becomes less cumbersome, more useful and more accessible, then it has a chance to penetrate a larger market. But until then, it remains a niche device.”

On that note, marketing agency Code and Theory co-founder Dan Gardner points out that the devices that ultimately become cornerstones of mainstream culture are not often – or perhaps ever – the first of their kind to appear on the market.

“Remember, once upon a time, there was the Apple Newton before the iPhone; there was the Zune before the iPod; there was Friendster before there was Facebook; the list goes on and on,” he says. “Businesses that dismiss technology because of a lack of imagination and clickbait headlines will be dismissed … The businesses that embrace the shifting tides that this technology represents in the long run will be the ones that win.”

According to Rosh Singh, managing director at digital production agency Unit9, the novelty of the underlying technology, not to mention the broader market, means that it would be a mistake to conclude at this point that the Vision Pro itself is a failure.

“Launching an entirely new product line isn’t easy and it will take time,” Singh says. “Make no mistake, with Apple, Meta, Microsoft, Google and others pushing for spatial computing to become the next mainstream computing platform, we are still at the very beginning of this journey.”

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