There’s a growing suspense and then forcing your audience to sit through a two-hour presentation before announcing that your much-anticipated, much-delayed VR headset won’t on sale until next year.
At the time Apple announced its VR goggles on Monday, the stock price lost its record high of the day. Possible culprits include a lack of compelling content, high prices, and a 2024 launch date.
Apple is an expert in luxury design and quality presentations. But are VR headsets good to go with $166 billion in cash and marketable securities? Limited battery life and a bulky fit still plague the field. Meta’s VR unit reported falling revenue and an operating loss of nearly $4 billion for the past quarter. Apple has not released figures showing development costs.
The company’s curved, ski-style headphones look more comfortable than most. Twelve different cameras and sensors capture real-world video that is then overlayed in VR — meaning wearers can immerse themselves in online life without tripping over their shoelaces. Instead of handheld devices, controls are activated manually or by voice. There’s a spooky-looking screen that shows the wearer’s eyes if someone is nearby, and an annoying cord attached to the external battery pack.
High display quality. Headphones have 23 million pixels. As Apple says, it’s not just a 4K TV in front of each eye. It is powered by Apple’s own M2 chip and a new chip called R1, part of its determination to reduce its reliance on external vendors such as Qualcomm and Broadcom.
Apple is rarely the frontrunner. LG Electronics released touchscreen smartphones before the iPhone, and Samsung sold smartwatches before the Apple Watch. But it has a track record of selling high-quality, popular hardware versions.
However, at $3,499, Apple didn’t price the Vision Pro as mass-consumer-friendly. For instance, they are seven times more expensive than the latest version of Meta. However, the presentation is also not business-focused. Perhaps it hopes to kick off a new marketplace of apps from third-party developers.
To replace the importance of the iPhone to Apple’s revenue, it would need to sell close to 60 million headphones a year. This seems unlikely. Happily for Apple, it has the means to experiment. Last year’s free cash flow was 5 times bigger than Meta. CEO Tim Cook can afford to try VR without betting Apple’s future on the technology.
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