Netflix has stated it has no current plans to create a native app for the Apple Vision Pro. The popular streaming service currently has a dedicated app available for almost every device imaginable. But despite this fact, there are no plans to launch one on the much anticipated Vision Pro.
Many onlookers may think Netflix building an app for Apple’s new baby would be a no-brainer, but things are less straightforward. And it seems Netflix is not alone. This recent news comes alongside claims that there will be no Spotify or YouTube app either.
So what’s behind the decision of these leading streaming services? The Vision Pro appears to be the entertainment platform of the future —and it’s made by a company with a proven track record of shaking up any industry its technology touches. Why would the world’s biggest streamer not jump at the chance of getting in on the ground floor by launching an app immediately?
Recently, Netflix co-CEO Greg Peters shared the thought process behind the decision with Stratechery. We’ll take a look at what he said and explore what might really be behind this recent news.
Apple Vision Pro —The Perfect Media Device
Apple has put a lot of effort into their Vision Pro marketing, and, in particular, the idea that you can watch movies and TV shows on a giant virtual screen. The Vision Pro will allow you to use passthrough to watch in your real surroundings, with the option to darken the area, or you can watch from a virtual environment. Alternatively, you can choose a mixture of both.
At launch, there is set to be a vast selection of 2D content available to stream as well as over 150 3D movies.
However, there are suggestions that users will struggle to wear the headset for long enough periods to watch movies or even TV shows. This is based on the weight of the device, and the design of the default strap.
Why Is Netflix Not Launching a Vision Pro App?
During an interview with independent analyst Ben Thompson at Stratechery, Greg Peters responded to questions about the fact that Netflix has dedicated apps on most devices but not the Apple Vision Pro, stating that it’s not out of “unwillingness or lack of desire to do that” but Netflix has to “be careful about making sure we’re not investing in places that are not really yielding a return, and I would say we’ll see where things go with Vision Pro.”
He went on to say that Netflix was “always in discussions” with Apple but that “the device is so subscale that it’s not particularly relevant to most of our members.
So, from this, we can infer that there’s a chance that this could all change and that Netflix will launch its own dedicated Vision Pro app in the future.
Why Not Just Use the iPad or iPhone App?
With so few Vision Pro units reaching the market in time for launch and with projected production numbers going forward being so low, it’s understandable that Netflix would take the view that there would be little return on any investment in developing a native app.
But by default, most iPhone and iPad apps will automatically work on the Vision Pro without needing any real developer adjustment. Of course, developers who don’t want their apps on the Vision Pro can opt out of compatibility.
This has led to speculation that Netflix intended to make the iPad version available to Vision Pro users but that Apple has insisted on a dedicated app, which Netflix does not want to develop.
Netflix On Other VR Devices
Netflix clearly has no issue with VR and obviously sees the potential in this type of technology. A Netflix app has been available for the Meta Quest for several years, complete with a cabin theme.
The Quest app was initially developed for the Samsung Gear VR and caps out at 480p. With the Vision Pro specs, users could enjoy a much richer experience.
App Compatibility Opt-Outs
It’s not just Netflix that has decided to opt out of Vision Pro compatibility. So far, upwards of 300,000 iOS apps and games have chosen to opt out of Vision Pro compatibility.
This includes streaming giants Spotify and YouTube.
Fortunately, there will be some major streaming platform apps for the Vision Pro. So far, Amazon Prime Video, Paramount+, Disney+, Max (HBO Max), and more will be available.
Speculation among tech analysts suggests the actual reason behind the number of app compatibility opt-outs could stem from the constant debate around iOD and iPadOS platform fees which has raged for years.
The current fee structure sees developers paying 30% of all subscription fees during the first year and 15% for subsequent years. This is a debate that Spotify has become deeply entrenched in with Apple.