The Apple Vision Non-Pro Will Still Be Very Expensive

The Apple Vision Pro headset is wowing everyone who gets a chance to try it, with universally positive impressions being published from press who got to have the 30-minute demo experience. In those articles, I’ve noticed a common refrain that I don’t think is accurate. The presented idea is that whilst this particular model is arriving “early next year” as something too expensive for the ordinary person, Apple is already working on the second-generation non-Pro model, expected in 2025, and that will solve the price problem and make the headset accessible for all.

In short, I think that’s way too optimistic. The visionOS platform has long-term potential to be a mass consumer device, but we are talking long-term. The second-generation Apple Vision will be just as out of reach to most as the Vision Pro is today. With the Vision Pro at $3500, a stripped down cheaper model is still going to be very pricey. I’m anticipating somewhere around the $2000 mark. For comparison, that is around $1000 more than the most expensive Quest headset; Meta launched the Quest Pro as a $1500 device in October 2022 and swiftly dropped it down to $999 in March.

The Meta Quest Pro does not sell in volumes anywhere near levels that could be deemed ‘mass consumer’. Meta has sold tens of millions of units over its lifetime, but that stat is dominated by sales of the entry-level Quests, which retail under $500 — and mostly targets the semi-casual VR gaming market.

I’m not sure the Apple Vision product line will ever reach prices that low, at least as Apple how envisions it (pun intended) today as an augmented reality spatial computer. The EyeSight feature alone must add hundreds of dollars in cost to the bill of materials — between the curved lenticular front-facing OLED display and the sensors needed to drive it. Without considering anything else, the existence of EyeSight means the lowest I can ever see an Apple headset going is $1500 — and that’s not a near term thing, that’s many years off.

Putting aside the myriad other drawbacks of the device’s form factor given current technological constraints, the price alone means I am very bearish on the mass consumer prospects on the Apple Vision product line. I’d wager it will take at least three generations of hardware evolution to get to something appealing to the mainstream.

It took Apple one year to sell ten million iPhones; I wouldn’t expect Apple to achieve 10 million visionOS unit sales until 2027-2028. To reiterate, that’s a five year timescale. They are playing a very long game.