Apple is set to unveil its new Vision Pro headset hailed as “revolutionary” by James Cameron and Marvel director Jon Favreau — while others have likened the clunky device to “digital fentanyl” and a “face-hugging alien.”
Tim Cook and his virtual reality team are gearing up for the Friday launch of its groundbreaking $3,500 device, which weighs about the same as five sticks of butter and earned accolades for its futuristic abilities by Cameron, the virtual reality pioneer and “Titanic” filmmaker.
“I would say my experience was religious,” Cameron, who has been working in VR for 18 years, told Vanity Fair. “I don’t bow down before the great god of Apple, but I was really, really blown away.”
But not everyone was as star-struck as Cameron, with some Silicon Valley investors hoping the hefty product – both in weight and price – would sink under its own ambition.
“I’m sure the technology is terrific. I still think and hope it fails,” a Silicon Valley investor, who was not identified, told the magazine. “Apple feels more and more like a tech fentanyl dealer that poses as a rehab provider.”
The device weighs about 20 ounces and once strapped to someone’s head can shoot 23 million pixels into each eyeball, giving it the “equivalent of the resolution of a 75-inch TV.”
From a technical perspective, the experience has been described as life-changing. A Conde Nast reporter who tried the headset over a series of weeks said reality began to feel far less superior than the augmented version beamed into his eyes.
Mark Hurst, the CEO of online strategy consulting company Creative Good, criticized Apple’s new wearable tech product as an “isolating device.”
“It’s a face-hugging alien strapped to your face,” said Hurst, who hosts the radio show Techtonic on WFMU. “Apple can create whatever experience it wants. Whatever the experience, it’s only you having it.”
Hurst, 51, believes Apple’s new “hobby device” doesn’t encourage interaction because the headset places the user in a digital reality and separates them from others in the actual environment.
But it’s not just Apple, other companies, like Meta, have their own devices which are “basically the same category.”
Hurst is not against virtual reality as a concept but doesn’t think the $3 trillion company should act as a “gatekeeper” between this new world and its millions of users.
Other tech giants such as Meta, Netflix, Spotify, and Google may be wary of this prospect as well and are withholding their services from Apple’s new device at the moment.
The headset also has its kinks, according to Vanity Fair, which might prevent the average consumer from forking over roughly two weeks of income for the product.
Among the issues were the product’s 20-ounce weight, the hefty price, the apps appearing sporadically in the virtual world, the size of the device, and more. Analysts believe will drop to around $1,500 in the coming years.
Even Cook was impressed by the first iteration of the headset when he tried it on six years ago. The CEO said the initial device looked like a “monster” and resembled a giant box with exhaust fans and screens layered on top of screens.
“It wasn’t wearable by any means of the imagination,” he said of the original prototype.
Despite the developments that make it wearable, many analysts believe the headset will only be a highlight of a niche group of people.
Headsets and virtual realities aren’t new. Mark Zuckerberg’s company has rolled out several bulky devices over the years – but the products remain outside the hands of an everyday tech consumer.
Unlike Apple’s iPhone and Macbook, most consumers don’t own a VR headset and more than likely cannot afford one with high inflation rates leaving wallets dry.
The first edition is also just that: A first edition. Consumers might wait for the kinks to be worked out and for the product to become something that more resembles sunglasses.
“We think a few years from now it’ll resemble sunglasses and be less than $1,500,” Dan Ives, a senior analyst at the investment firm Wedbush Securities, told Vanity Fair.
Regardless, Friday’s launch is a huge achievement for Apple. But how quickly the Vision Pro will be swept off the shelves and into people’s homes remains to be seen.