Apple has finally unveiled its long-awaited virtual reality headset, dubbed “Vision Pro.” This is the company’s first major product launch since AirPods in 2016. The headset, priced at $3,499, is initially aimed at video game and application developers, although it could ignite interest in this segment among consumers. Apple describes the device as the world’s first spatial computer and plans to make it available early next year on Apple.com and at retail outlets across the US. Despite rivals such as Google and Facebook already having entered the VR market, Apple claims Vision Pro gives users an unparalleled, “magical” experience. The headset is powered by Apple’s proprietary M2 and R1 chips, which allow the device to remain silent, stream images without lag, and can be controlled with users’ eyes, hands, and voice.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said the product is the company’s first VR device and the first spatial computer that “you look through and not at.” Users of the device can access applications they usually see on their iPhone’s home screen overlaid on the physical environment in front of them. Apple did not specify the headset’s exact launch date but said it plans to release it early next year. Apple plans to sell about 150,000 headsets in 2024 and 1 million in their second year of sale at a lower price point. According to the research firm CCS Insight, since 2016, virtual- and augmented-reality device shipments have averaged about 8.6 million units annually, expected to reach 67 million in 2026.
Apple’s late entry into the VR market could be because it prefers to “wait for other companies like Google and Meta, then they come in a few years later and create a market for the product because people love Apple,” according to Wedbush Securities’ technology analyst Dan Ives. Analysts have expressed optimism in Apple’s VR headset, given its dedicated user base.
While other VR headset makers failed to create a significant market, Ives believes that Apple’s announcement of a new VR headset is a significant step towards a broader AI strategy that Tim Cook is rolling out. Initially aimed at developers, the headset will soon be available for purchase by the general public.
—The Associated Press contributed to this report.