Apple lived up to months of expectations on Monday when it introduced new high-tech glasses that blend the real world with virtual reality. The $3,500 device, called Vision Pro, will offer “augmented reality” and introduce “spatial computing,” Apple said.
But conspicuously absent from its carefully choreographed announcement were the actual words “virtual reality,” underscoring the challenges the tech giant faces in marketing the device to a mass consumer audience.
Interest in virtual reality peaked for a while after the idea of the metaverse – a massive online world popularized by science fiction – was introduced to mainstream audiences during the pandemic. But that concept is fading as people return to their pre-pandemic lives, investors turn to artificial intelligence and it becomes clear how many technological innovations it will take to achieve such a futuristic vision. May need it.
Previous virtual reality offerings, including Google Glass, Magic Leap, Microsoft’s HoloLens and Meta’s Quest Pro, have been either commercial failures or only modest successes. And companies have so far failed to demonstrate what’s essential about virtual reality.
“I don’t think the headset, if it does come to market this year, is going to be for mass-market consumers,” said Carolina Milanesi, consumer technology analyst at research firm Creative Strategies. “It will be for early adopters — which is where Apple often starts — and developers.”
Analysts don’t expect Apple’s product to have significant mainstream appeal, at least initially. The company said it will be available early next year.
But if the device lacks broad appeal, it could be a useful trial run for Apple, which could eventually create a virtual reality product aimed at a wider swath of people, like a pair of lightweight glasses.
“I don’t think Apple has huge expectations,” said Jeff Fieldhack, a research director at Counterpoint Research. “They know this is a development that is going to take some time.”
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.