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Apple Enters Metaverse with Vision Pro AR Headset Launch

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On June 5, 2023, Apple Inc. unveiled its newest and riskiest product since the iPhone: the Vision Pro AR headset, marking the tech giant’s entry into the burgeoning metaverse market​. With a starting price of $3,499, the Vision Pro is set to be a premium contender in the augmented reality landscape, a market currently dominated by Meta (formerly Facebook)​​.

The Vision Pro is an augmented reality (AR) headset offering a unique experience. Unlike most products in Apple’s lineup, the Vision Pro is a product “you look through, not at,” according to CEO Tim Cook​. The headset features eye-tracking and 3D camera capabilities, allowing users to select content, click, and scroll using eye movements and simple hand gestures. It also offers a new dimension in AR interaction, with an exterior display showing the user’s eyes to the outside world, and can transition to fully immersive virtual reality experiences​.

To support these advanced features, the Vision Pro is powered by a new chip called the R1, which processes sensor information in less time than the blink of an eye​. Apple has also secured partnerships with Adobe, Microsoft, and Unity to bring their apps to the new headset. The news of this collaboration saw Unity shares surge by 17%. Furthermore, Apple’s own TV+ content and Disney’s Disney+ streaming service will be available on the Vision Pro​.

However, the Vision Pro does have some limitations. The device’s battery life is only two hours, requiring an external power source. This design decision was made to reduce the weight on the user’s head, but it means the device cannot be used standalone​.

Despite these exciting developments, the Vision Pro’s launch news had a muted reception on Wall Street, with Apple’s stock remaining largely flat in post-market trading​. According to market research firm IDC, the device is set to face stiff competition in a market currently 80% controlled by Meta.

With its hefty price tag and advanced features, Apple’s Vision Pro primarily targets the high-end market and tech enthusiasts. As Wedgewood Partners chief investment officer David Rolfe remarked, “Wealthy, techie early adopters will buy the Vision Pro in droves, but still years to move the needle for the mammoth Apple”​​.

The Vision Pro will be available early next year in the U.S., with more countries to follow in 2024​​. Despite the challenges, this bold move by Apple underscores the company’s continued commitment to pioneering in the technology sector and its readiness to shape the future of the metaverse.

Apple’s entrance into the metaverse via the Vision Pro headset can have several implications for the future of the metaverse:

  1. Increased competition and innovation: With Apple, a major player in the tech industry, entering the metaverse market, there is likely to be increased competition, particularly with the current dominant player, Meta. This could lead to faster innovation and new features and technologies in the metaverse space.
  2. Higher quality standards: Apple is known for its high-quality products and user-friendly design. Introducing Vision Pro could raise the bar for quality and user experience standards in the AR/VR headset market and the metaverse more broadly.
  3. Broader adoption: While the Vision Pro’s high price point may limit its initial audience, Apple’s strong brand recognition and loyal customer base could lead to increased awareness and adoption of metaverse technologies over time.
  4. Privacy and security: Apple has a strong reputation for emphasizing user privacy and security. Their entry into the metaverse might focus more on these aspects, influencing other players to follow suit.
  5. Integration with existing Apple ecosystem: Given Apple’s existing ecosystem of devices and services, their entrance into the metaverse could provide more seamless AR/VR experiences integration with their existing products. This could improve the user experience and enhance the utility of the metaverse within the Apple ecosystem.
  6. Influence on metaverse concept: Apple’s approach to the metaverse, focusing on enhancing our reality rather than creating an entirely separate virtual world, could influence the direction of the metaverse’s development. If successful, it could inspire a shift in focus from purely virtual realities to more augmented reality experiences that enhance our daily lives.
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However, it’s important to remember that the metaverse concept is still in its early stages, and the impact of Apple’s entrance into this space will likely evolve as the technology matures and consumer adoption grows.

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