Apple’s new Vision Pro mixed-reality headset has garnered positive attention, but its steep price has raised concerns about its potential sales.
Revealed at WWDC 2023, the Vision Pro marks Apple’s entry into a new product category since the Apple Watch in 2015. Priced at $3,500, the headset is more than three times the cost of Meta’s Quest Pro, which retails for $999.
While Meta offers a more affordable option with the Quest 3 headset priced at $499, Apple is reportedly working on a cheaper version of the Vision Pro.
According to well-known Apple leaker Mark Gurman, the tech giant aims to make the new product category accessible to a wider audience. The rumoured cheaper model – potentially named Apple Vision or Apple Vision One – is expected to be released by the end of 2025, approximately two years after the debut of the original Vision Pro.
To lower the price of the headset, Apple would need to make certain compromises.
Gurman suggests that Apple may use lower-quality screens, opt for a less powerful chip (either an iPhone-grade or older Mac chip), and reduce the number of cameras, thereby affecting the performance capabilities compared to the premium model. Apple might also simplify the headband design and rely on AirPods for spatial audio instead of built-in speakers.
Additional changes could include replacing the automatic interpupillary distance adjuster with a physical one and potentially removing features such as the 3D camera. However, Gurman speculates that Apple will retain the external EyeSight screen that displays a wearer’s eyes, as well as the eye- and hand-tracking system that eliminates the need for separate hand controllers.
With a combination of refined production processes, economies of scale, and a cheaper frame, Gurman predicts that Apple could significantly reduce the price of the device.
Nevertheless, even with a lower cost, the Vision Pro’s price point may still lead potential customers interested in augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) experiences to consider rival devices.
Apple’s decision to develop a more affordable version of the Vision Pro mixed-reality headset may help it to reach a broader consumer base. However, with the release of the cheaper model potentially still at least two years away, consumers seeking AR/VR experiences may explore alternative options from competitors in the meantime.
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