On June 5, Apple (AAPL) unveiled a “mixed reality” headset called the Vision Pro at its annual WWDC developers conference. The product, which has a hefty price tag of $3,499, marks the iPhone maker’s foray into augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR), a field Apple’s Big Tech rivals, including Google (GOOGL) and Meta (META), have already entered with middling success.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said at WWDC that the Vision Pro will “shift the way we look at technology and the role it plays in our lives.”
“The depth of engineering in it is mind-blowing. You’ve got more than a 4k experience in each eye,” Cook said in an interview on Good Morning America the next day. “It enables you to see, hear and interact with digital content right in your physical spaces as if it’s there.”
The Vision Pro won’t be available until 2024, so most consumers haven’t had the opportunity to interact with the device. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, whose companies have both introduced similar AR/VR products, have expressed mixed opinions about Apple’s highest-profile new product in nearly a decade.
Sundar Pichai: Vision Pro has the potential to create computing experiences beyond smartphones.
In an interview with Bloomberg yesterday (June 12), Pichai said he’s excited about the potential of new AR/VR devices like the Vision Pro to create more immersive computing experiences. He added that Google has “always felt computing will evolve beyond the black rectangles,” referring to today’s smartphones.
Google is one of the earliest tech companies to enter the AR/VR space. In 2013, it released the $1,500 Google Glass, an AR headset equipped with a camera that could capture the user’s surroundings. But the product failed to catch on in both the consumer market or the enterprise market. In March, the company announced it will officially discontinue Google Glass.
Instead of hardware, Google in recent years has focused its AR/VR strategy on apps, such as Google Lens and Google Arts and Culture.
Mark Zuckerberg: Apple and Meta have a”philosophical difference” in approaching VR.
The closest competitor of the Vision Pro in today’s market is Meta’s Quest line of AR/VR headsets. But Meta CEO Zuckerberg said Apple has a fundamentally different approach to AR/VR and suggested its product caters to a different audience.
“From what I’ve seen initially, I’d say the good news is that there’s no kind of magical solutions that they have to any of the constraints on laws of physics that our teams haven’t already explored and thought of,” Zuckerberg told Meta employees in an all-hands meeting on June 8.
Zuckerberg acknowledged the Vision Pro has a higher-resolution display, but pointed out the device is seven times more expensive than Meta’s upcoming $499 Quest 3, which was unveiled days before Apple’s WWDC event.
“I think that their announcement really showcases the difference in the values and the vision that our companies bring to this,” the Meta CEO said. “We innovate to make sure that our products are as accessible and affordable to everyone as possible, and that is a core part of what we do. And we have sold tens of millions of Quests.”
“More importantly, our vision for the metaverse and presence is fundamentally social,” Zuckerberg added. “Our device is also about being active and doing things. By contrast, every demo that they showed was a person sitting on a couch by themself…That could be the vision of the future of computing, but like, it’s not the one that I want.”