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Apple failed to justify the lofty price of the Vision Pro

OPINION: When Apple releases a new device, it usually knocks it out of the park. There are few phones better than the iPhone, few tablets better than the iPad and few laptops better than the MacBook. 

So you can imagine my excitement when Apple announced that it was entering the VR/AR market.

There are already numerous mixed reality headsets out there with excellent hardware, including the recently launched Vive XR Elite and Meta Quest Pro. But it’s the software that has arguably let these devices down, lacking the killer app that will make everyone rush out to buy a headset.

I was confident that Apple would be the one to deliver that killer app for mixed reality. After all, Apple was the company that developed the app library that kickstarted the smartphone revolution. Unfortunately, Apple failed to meet my sky high expectations with the Vision Pro during its launch event.

Apple Vision Pro Front-view
Apple Reality Pro

The Vision Pro certainly looks intriguing, with Apple pitching it as a computing device that can replace your laptop, and it’s packed to the hilt with advanced technology. But all the applications you can use have seemingly been migrated over from a MacBook. 

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Yes, you can browse the web with multiple windows, watch films on a massive virtual screen or jump on video calls with friends, but I’m not convinced that I’d want to do that with a headset hugging my face rather than on the display of a significantly more affordable (and convenient) MacBook Air laptop. 

And even if I was persuaded to buy a mixed reality headset, why would I buy the Vision Pro over existing options? Apple’s own VisionOS software is the biggest advantage, allowing you to make use of Apple’s streamlined operating system. But I’m struggling to accept that the software will be enough to justify the price gulf between the Vision Pro and Meta Quest Pro. 

The Meta Quest Pro is hardly considered affordable with a price of $999, and yet it’s still somehow $2500 cheaper than the Vision Pro. I’m not sure why there’s such a huge price disparity here. The Quest Pro has similar technology with the likes of eye-tracking, colour passthrough and an all-in-one design. 

Meta Quest Pro
Meta Quest Pro – Image Credit (Meta)

Apple may well point to the power of the M2 chip, which is considerably more powerful than the processor (Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2+) powering the Meta Quest Pro, but all of that power will go to waste if Apple doesn’t provide any application to take advantage of that performance advantage. Facetime and Disney Plus, which both featured heavily during the launch presentation, certainly aren’t going to cut the mustard. 

It’s worth pointing out that the Vision Pro still has a long way to go until launch. Apple announced the headset will be available to buy in 2024, making this a surprising early reveal for Apple. The most likely explanation for this is that Apple wants to encourage developers to create more apps for the Vision Pro before it does hit stores. That means there’s still plenty of time for Apple and its partners to create a killer app to make the Vision Pro a more tempting proposition.

But right now, I just don’t see how the Vision Pro is justifying its lofty price, especially when the Meta Quest Pro – which offers similar functionality – is so much more affordable. 

If Apple is ever going to make the Vision Pro a success story, on the same level as the iPhone, iPad or MacBook, it’s either going to have to scale down that price or get even more creative with its software. 

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