Apple VisionPro AR Headset Targets High-End Market With Heavy Focus on 2D Content & Displays — Not the Metaverse

After being developed since at least 2015, Apple finally unveiled its AR headset, the VisionPro. As the “Pro” in the name suggests, it’s very much targeting a niche of high-end enterprise power users, and is significantly pricier than rumors suggested, at $3499.

For me the big reveal is VisionPro has little or no VR capabilities — instead, the overwhelming focus is on displaying photos, video, and audio in an AR space. Even the rumored ultra-realistic avatars are not really avatars per se, but volumetric models of the individual user, called a “persona”. 

Relatedly, there’s little or nothing in VisionPro that smacks of the Metaverse as it’s properly defined — no immersive shared virtual world, no highly customizable avatars, no virtual economy of user-generated, etc. But then that shouldn’t be a surprise: Apple CEO Tim Cook has never been a booster of the Metaverse concept.

Some other standout notes from the WWDC reveal:

Apple VisionPro AR

The EyeSight feature, which displays a user’s eyes on the headset, so they can make eye contact with people around in them, is a nice and novel solution to the “cut off from the real world” problem XR has had since inception. 

Again, I’m struck by how little interaction with 3D content we saw in the WWDC reveal — just a bit in the Disney and 3rd party developer portion. Even the small segment devoted to playing games in VisionPro was about integration with Apple Arcade — i.e. games on a pre-existing 2D screen format!

Instead, Apple’s focus with VisionPro is heavily on a new, much more immersive way of interacting with 2D content. But that’s not a surprise: With it’s $3499 price tag, it will not target gamers or virtual world fans, but wealthy individuals who expect the product to be useful in a work / productivity context.

Another hook with that price: If early sales are steady, we can expect the VisionPro’s price to slowly go down. But it will probably take 10 years or so before it’s affordable to the average consumer (i.e. under $500).

More soon!

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