Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, has confirmed that the company’s much-anticipated Vision Pro mixed reality headset will only be available from Apple Stores.
After sharing Apple’s Q4 earnings for 2023, Tim Cook was asked questions about the Apple Vision Pro’s release on a conference call. He talked about how the new headset will be distributed and how the strategy for the XR release will differ from the launch of other Apple tech, like the Apple Watch or AirPods.
During his response, Cook also laid out the bones of how Apple envisages consumer education around the headset.
Let’s take a look at the latest updates on the forthcoming Apple Vision Pro launch.
There Are “Blow-Away” Things Coming Out
At a recent Q4 earnings call, an investment banking advisory firm asked whether the Vision Pro’s launch will be similar to the launch of Apple Watch or AirPods
Before answering the question, the first thing Tim Cook did was to talk about the hype surrounding the Vision Pro, stating, “There’s a tremendous amount of excitement around the Vision Pro.”
He then went on to talk about how Apple has shared the new device with developers and that developer labs have been set up across the world. Cook said he was “fortunate enough to see a number of those, and there are some real blow-away kinds of things that are coming out, and so that all looks good.”
Apple Store Only
Returning to the question about the similarities between the Vision Pro, AirPods, and Apple Watch, Cook said, “There’s never been a product like the Vision Pro, and so we’re purposely bringing it out in our stores only so we can really put a great deal of attention on the last mile of it. We’ll be offering demos in the stores, and it will be a very different process than a normal grab-and-go kind of process.”
Apple is no stranger to creating a tailored customer experience around its unique selling points. Being the only company selling their own products not only creates scarcity which drives demand, but it also lets them retain control over the narratives surrounding their tech.
A Whole New Category
The Vision Pro is Apple’s first foray into the new world of mixed reality, and headsets are essentially wearable “face computers”. By demonstrating this new category of devices in their stores, Apple can ensure consumers get to grips with and experience the full potential of the new type of operating system as well as the eye and hand tracking interface.
Apple Stores will likely continue to be the sole outlet selling the new Vision Pro until the devices see widespread adoption.
At the moment, it’s unclear whether the Apple Vision Pro will only launch in physical stores or whether it will be available from the company’s own website. The Vision Pro website states the device is “Available early next year on apple.com and at Apple retail stores in the U.S.”
Whether you can buy online or not, it’s clear you won’t be able to buy the Apple Vision Pro from any other retailers.
When Is the Apple Vision Pro Released?
At the moment, there are no definite dates on the calendar for the Apple Vision Pro release. It’s likely the headset will launch in the US in early 2024.
The Apple Vision Pro is set to retail at $3,500. However, with such a high price point, it’s unlikely to attract most consumers. When Meta launched the Quest Pro last year, it failed to gain much interest at a retail price of $1,500. And, in the face of such poor sales, Meta quickly slashed its price to $1,000.
But it’s not just the price that could cause slow early sales for Apple. Supply constraints mean only limited quantities of the Vision Pro will be available.
The Apple In-Store Experience
According to reports from Mark Gurman from Bloomberg, Apple plans to create spaces within Apple Stores dedicated to demonstrating the Vision Pro in action. Full in-store demos mean buyers can choose the right strap for their head, creating a more positive brand experience from the start.
It’s also been suggested that demos and Vision Pro sales will be by appointment only, much like Apple has done for previous product launches.
Gurman also said in July that the Vision Pro would initially only be available from stores in major cities like Los Angeles or New York.
At the moment, it’s uncertain whether the Vision Pro will have a European launch in line with the United States or whether this is set to follow later in the year or even in 2025. When viewing the Vision Pro website from the UK, the only release information reads, “Available early next year in the U.S.”
The “Most Ambitious” Device
Apple is touting the Vision Pro as the most ambitious product they’ve ever created. While the company needs it to succeed, reports suggest that Sony can only produce half a million micro-OLED displays for the device per year.
A few months ago, there were suggestions that Chinese manufacturers BOE Technology and SeeYa Technology, who both show promise in manufacturing microdisplays, could replace Sony in the future, provided they meet the rigorous Apple quality standards. This could speed up the supply chain and drive wider adoption by consumers.
Over the next few months, there’s likely to be a flurry of updates about the Apple Vision Pro. Watch this space for more news.