Is Apple Vision Pro a Failure?

I’m starting to see the tide turn a bit on the coverage of the Apple Vision Pro going from over-the-top exuberance to criticism. Some call it a failure. What do you do with a $3,500 product that doesn’t yet have a critical amount of apps or any “killer app”? Generation one products are like this. Folks can get very excited about them initially, then realize that the thing really isn’t done yet and they become disappointed. The first iPhone went through this a bit. It wasn’t until the third version that the product took off. This has been called the “rule of three,” meaning it takes three generations of a new product to get it to where it needs to be. I expect that will be true of the Vision Pro. 

However, I’d avoid giving this product to anyone, adult or child, who doesn’t do well with impulse control because it could kill or gravely injure them. (Operating a car or anything else wearing this given how it limits sight and introduces distractions is dangerously negligent).  

Let’s talk about first generation products with a focus on the Vision Pro.

Pioneers vs. Settlers

There is an old saying I use a lot, “Pioneers take the arrows; settlers take the land,” that speaks to early adopters. Generally, this means that those getting the initial version of a new product, and particularly a new product category like “Spatial Computing,” are going to experience an inordinate amount of pain because the vendor and customer haven’t yet come to agreement as to what is needed with the product. Thus, it is incomplete and hard to complete until that meeting of the minds occurs.

The first version of a new product is based on a guess about what the market wants and, in most cases, that guess is going to be wrong. In the case of the Apple Vision Pro, a head-mounted computer that costs over 3x what an average laptop costs would be impossible to sell at volume, yet Apple did just that to its credit. However, a lot of the initial reviewers returned their products after a couple of weeks because, regardless of how wonderful it was, they couldn’t justify the $3,500 price. 

This price will eventually drop like a rock as the technology gets cheaper and sales volumes increase. I expect the purchase price to be closer to $500, which is where most of the market is today, than the $3,500 this initial offering enjoys. 

Now there aren’t all downsides to getting a first edition offering. People notice it, it will convey (at least initially) a significant amount of low-grade status (status for what you bought, not your title or who you are, which tends to be a higher grade), and it allows you to watch videos in privacy while doing other things better than anything else I’ve seen so far.   

 So, as far as first-generation products go, the Apple Vision Pro is one of the best I’ve ever seen and also arguably better than the first iPhone, but it is still clearly a first-generation product.

Who Should Buy First-Generation Products?

There are other, far less expensive ways to watch movies privately using head-mounted displays from Rokid, Goovis or even Lenovo. But none of these will attract attention like the Visio Pro does today, so the happiest early adopters will be those who really like this attention and will wear this device when they are out in public (you don’t get much attention when you are using it while home alone). 

If you have or like talking about new products on social media or in forums, the Vision Pro will give you an inroad to those audiences and allow you to be seen as an expert in this new device class, and you can hold that expert status through the following versions. 

And finally, there is something this product does (like placing virtual timers, recipes, or instructions near work, hobby, or cooking projects that you are working on and where you don’t want to deal with tethered alternatives like the far cheaper headsets I mentioned earlier. Oh, and it would help if you were fully into the Apple ecosystem as this product doesn’t interoperate with Windows or Android. 

Wrapping Up: Is Apple Vision Pro a Failure?

Not yet, and it is one of the best version one products I’ve ever seen. So right now, it is anything but a failure. It just needs to advance over the next two versions to mature enough to potentially become another iPod or iPhone which also took multiple versions to get right. 

Remember: the first version is mostly guess, the second version tends to fix the biggest problems of the first version, including app support, and by the third version, the vendor should fully understand what price it should set for the product and what the proper feature set needs to be. 

So, while most of us should wait until the third version to purchase, those who go early, while experiencing the most pain and cost, will also become the influencers for this class and enjoy a lot of the initial and eventual success of their newly found expertise. 

So, rather than calling the Vision Pro a failure (it is anything but), I’d call it a qualified success, but I’m anticipating a future version that has the potential to revolutionize personal computing. I can hardly wait!