Is anyone buying the Apple Vision Pro? This report offers a clue

Two months after its big release, no one seems to be talking about the Apple Vision Pro anymore. That could be telling

BY Michael Grothaus

On February 2, in what was ostensibly supposed to be the most significant gadget launch of the year, if not the decade, the Apple Vision Pro went on sale to the public. In the run-up to the launch, there were countless think pieces on how Apple’s first new device in nearly 10 years could change the tech industry—and perhaps society. Heck, I even wrote a piece exploring whether snapping up a Vision Pro could help fund your retirement.

But in the nine weeks since its launch, something completely unexpected seems to have happened: No one is really talking about it much anymore. It’s a device that seems to have come, helped people get likes on social media, and gone. The Apple Vision Pro just isn’t part of the public discourse—not in the way the iPhone was, two months into its life.

A possible indicator

The silence seems to be substantiated by a late February report from well-connected TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Kuo has been issuing reports on Apple’s current and upcoming products for years. His reporting is usually compiled from information gained from his connections with people in Asia’s supply chain. While Kuo doesn’t have an absolutely perfect track record, the majority of his reporting ends up being accurate.

Kou typically uses information gained from his supply chain sources to predict new features of Apple devices that might be years away. He also gleans data from manufacturing and supply chains that can suggest how well an Apple product is or isn’t selling. And Kou’s most recent report about the Apple Vision Pro from February 28 doesn’t bode well for the company’s wearable spatial computer.

In a post on X accompanying the report, Kou said that Vision Pro demand in the U.S. was “slowing significantly.” The report explained that, according to Kou’s checks, demand for the Vision Pro declined rapidly after initial sales and has remained in that declined state. It should be noted that Apple itself has yet to comment on Vision Pro sales numbers. Fast Company reached out to Apple to ask about sales numbers, but the company has yet to respond.

But Kou’s report of a rapid decline in sales makes of sense when you take into account that, beyond some continuing coverage in niche tech corners, both mainstream media and social media seem to have moved on from the Vision Pro. In other words, the much-hyped Apple Vision Pro launch wasn’t the next era-defining “iPhone moment” Apple had been hoping for. 

But why is this?

Three reasons that sales could be off

First, the Apple Vision Pro is ridiculously expensive for the average consumer. For its $3,499 price point (before tax) you can buy three MacBooks—or three iPhone 15 Pros. In other words, for a third of the price of a Vision Pro you can pick up a MacBook or iPhone that can do much of what the Vision Pro can do—and a lot more. And the MacBook or iPhone are going to be more useful to the average person in their daily professional and personal lives. I’m going to reach into my pocket to quickly send off a text, not strap on a headset, you know?

Which brings me to the second point: What is the Vision Pro’s unique selling point? To be sure, the Vision Pro is an engineering marvel, and as a spatial computer, allows you to naturally interact with digital elements in the real world all around you. But it seems that after this initial “wow” factor wears off, many consumers realize that while the spatial aspect of the Vision Pro is cool, they don’t need the device to watch movies (their TV already accommodates that) or send emails or look at photos (a laptop works perfectly fine). They especially don’t need an additional device for these things if it costs $3,499.

A third reason the public seems to have moved on from the Vision Pro is that it lacks a killer app. Even amid the hype surrounding the launch of the Vision Pro, I never came across a large swath of consumers who just couldn’t stop celebrating the awesomeness or usefulness of a particular app. On the original iPhone, the Maps app (then powered by Google) blew me away by changing the way I navigated the world. After the App Store launched, Angry Birds got millions of people addicted to mobile gaming. And WhatsApp let me text nearly anyone on the planet. But what’s the Vision Pro app that people can’t shut up about?

 

So far there isn’t one. Hell, so far there aren’t many apps at all. Last month, Apple’s senior vice president of marketing, Greg Joswiak, announced that there were now “over 1,000 incredible spatial apps designed specifically for Vision Pro.” That’s not a lot for a $3,500 device. (You can run 1.5 million different iPad apps on Vision Pro, but those aren’t designed for spatial computing—so why wouldn’t I just pick up an iPad for a tenth of the price instead?) When the iPhone App Store launched, in 2008, it featured nearly 100,000 apps and games that people could use on their iPhones, Statista data shows.

Most people I’ve talked to say that the most appealing use case for the Vision Pro is as an entertainment device—you can watch movies on a virtual cinema-sized screen. But if you have a 65-inch or larger TV in your living room already, the film-viewing benefits of a Vision Pro seem to be pretty nullified. Not to mention that the two biggest streaming platforms in the world—YouTube and Netflix—don’t even offer dedicated Vision Pro apps.

Given all the hindrances outlined above, it’s no wonder the Vision Pro seems to have left the mainstream public’s consciousness as quickly as it came. And until Apple can at least address the $3,500 price point issue, it seems like the Vision Pro doesn’t have much hope of gripping the public’s imagination again soon, at least in America.

A second chance at a first impression

Internationally, Apple’s next hope for the Vision Pro catching and retaining a large mindshare is in China. Tim Cook recently confirmed to Chinese state media (via Reuters) that the company’s spatial computer will be launched on the mainland before the end of this year. Could the Vision Pro take hold of the public imagination in China more than it has in America? Possibly. One big factor is that the country’s tech giant, Tencent, has reportedly agreed to make some of its most popular apps native to the Vision Pro. Tencent is the maker of WeChat, Weibo, QQ, and more—apps that need to be on any device if it is to be successful in China.

Still, the Vision Pro needs to offer Chinese users something more than just Tencent apps. Something compelling, something users want to do regularly, and something that they can’t already easily do on their phones if Apple’s spatial computer is to embed itself into the public discourse for more than a few weeks. But for now, I just can’t see what that would be, in any dimension.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Grothaus is a novelist and author. He has written for Fast Company since 2013, where he’s interviewed some of the tech industry’s most prominent leaders and writes about everything from Apple and artificial intelligence to the effects of technology on individuals and society. 


Fast Company

(9)