What would success look like for the Vision Pro? It’s still an open question — or, perhaps, a series of interrelated questions. First is how many Apple expects to sell, and what industry analysts are forecasting. Second is who, precisely, is buying. The third is timeline, as in: how slow of a burn is acceptable. Few, if any, expect a system like this to see iPhone levels of success overnight.
Rumors of forecast cuts pre-date the actual Vision Pro announcement, while the $3,500 price tag only exacerbated doubt among analysts. As to why the mixed reality (or “spatial computing,” if you will) headset is going for so much, well, beyond Apple’s standard premium pricing, there’s the whole first-generation product thing. There was a reported seven-eight years of R&D, followed by the creation of custom hardware components.
Of course, we all know that scaling brings hardware prices down, but being first to market with certain technologies will generally result in high premiums. Those two tiny 4K displays appear to have been a primary culprit. They’re also implicated in the latest report of forecast slashing. Though this one appears to be more an issue of manufacturing than perceived demand.
According to “two people close to Apple and [contract manufacturer] Luxshare” cited by The Financial Times, manufacturing bottlenecks have slashed Vision Pro orders. Apple has reportedly asked Luxshare to make fewer than 400,000 units next year — down from an initial internal sales target of one million. China-based Luxshare is said to be Apple’s only Vision Pro assembler. Both parties declined to comment for the story, naturally.
Manufacturing issues have abounded for the past few years as a direct result of pandemic-related closures. Not even Apple has been able to completely steer clear of the phenomenon for existing devices. The addition of micro-OLED displays further complicate those concerns. Presumably other devices adopting the tech should ramp up production, while bringing down prices, but mixed reality headsets remain a relatively unproven category.
Additional knock-on effects include the reported pushback of a lower-cost version of the headset that earlier rumors pegged for a 2025 release. The company is no doubt hoping for a wider adoption of an Apple Vision headset, following the Pro, which is targeted — in part — at bringing developers and corporations on board. The product has gotten good early marks from journalists, and should get more interest once it’s actually released early next year. But for a company like Apple (and more importantly, its shareholders) that is accustomed to blockbuster products, such a deliberate approach is likely an exercise in frustration.