Jun 5, 2023
Apple launched its long-awaited mixed reality headset at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, delving into a major category of technology since the Apple Watch in 2015.
But, much to the chagrin of the company, Apple’s stock plunged from $184.90 at around 1:15 pm, 15 minutes after the WWDC began, to $179.58, reported the Fortune.
A widely-shared video captured the reaction of a large crowd to the announcement of the Vision Pro's price tag.
It seems investors were similarly unimpressed with the headset's price at $3,499, which is more than thrice the cost of the priciest headset in Meta's VR devices.
In March, Mark Zuckerberg announced that the Meta Quest Pro would be getting a price cut, from $1,499 to $999.
Depending on first-year sales, the Vision Pro could push Apple to a $3 trillion valuation. Currently, the company is valued at $2.82 trillion, and some analysts forecast that Vision Pro could add over $40 billion to its market cap, Fortune reported.
The Vision Pro enables powerful spatial experiences
Vision Pro will run on a spatial operating system, which has been in the works for the last six years. Called visionOS, it is built on the foundation of macOS, iPadOS and iOS.
The high-tech headset comprises a shiny black glass display, which is a custom micro‑OLED display system featuring 23 million pixels, delivering 4K resolution per eye and vibrant colors. It comes with a 3D lens which enables a feeling of 360-degree view of the display wherever one looks.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said the new headset "seamlessly blends the real world and the virtual world."
As one puts on the headset, iOS applications fill up the space around, beyond the boundaries of a display. The widgets can be moved around and scaled to a size of the user’s liking. They also react to the lighting in the room, and even cast shadows. One can also watch movies on a virtual move screen.
The Vision Pro also comes equipped with EyeSight, which helps a user see when someone approaches them, revealing their eyes to the person. It ‘helps you remain connected to those around you,’ said the company.
The user can control the Vision Pro using their eyes, hands, and voice, in comparison to Meta’s Quest Pro VR headset which needs a controller. With Vision Pro, one simply needs to look at an element or an app, pinch your fingers together to select, and use the virtual keyboard or dictation to type.
The battery is connected to the headset and can be kept in one’s pocket or hip. It supports up to two hours of battery life and all‑day use when plugged in. The mixed reality headset comes equipped with R1, a computer chip that processes information from five sensors installed around the headset, 12 cameras and six microphones.
Apple partnered with Disney, and Unity, permitting users to stream Disney+ and play Unity games on the headset.
Will Apple's headset make VR mainstream?
It isn’t the first AR/VR headset to hit the market and neither will it be the last, but it is definitely a risky launch given the headwinds faced by Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse after it launched its own line of headsets which failed to make a lasting impression.
It’s taken a lot of time for the maker of the iPhone to develop the new product, which will be launched for commercial use next year. But only time will tell if people will part with thousands of dollars for the technology which may become obsolete in a forever shifting landscape. AR/VR certainly didn’t do any favors for Meta.
There have been some doubts raised regarding whether Apple’s latest launch will help make VR mainstream. Online publication New Scientist spoke to Lee Vinsel, a historian of technology at Virginia Tech, who said, “Apple’s headset is both experimental and expensive. The same was true for many other eventually successful devices, including the iPhone, but those technologies were opening up new spaces, whereas Apple is entering well-trod ground where others have failed.”