Apple’s newest product, the Vision Pro AR headset, set to launch early next year, already promises to be a rare commodity. Its $3,500 price tag and recent reports of reduced production targets hinted at the challenge of acquiring the product from the onset. But the process seems even more complex, according to details outlined by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. Availability for the Vision Pro will be limited, and buying the device entails a somewhat intricate process. Initial purchases won’t be a simple walk-in and order situation. Customers will need to schedule a fitting appointment, either in-store or online.
The Fitting Process
To secure a Vision Pro, the process begins with head scanning. A special machine along with an iPhone app will be used to perform this scan, allowing Apple to determine the right headband and light seal size. The iPhone app will allow online buyers to conduct these scans from the comfort of their homes. For those with prescription glasses, they will need to provide their prescription data to Apple to ensure the headset includes appropriate lenses. This data will be collected in advance via an online portal to make the right lens inserts available.
Sales and Demo Locations
Although Apple plans to sell the Vision Pro at all 270 US Apple Stores, the demo stations will initially only be available in major regions like New York or Los Angeles. The rest of the country will have to wait for the stations to be rolled out nationwide. The company plans to establish special areas in its stores for the Vision Pro, where customers can familiarize themselves with the new device. Given the limited supply and high cost of the devices, most stores are initially expected to have only one to two demo units.
Online Purchases and International Sales
Online purchases from Apple’s U.S. online store will only become available in 2025. So early adopters will have to go into a nearby brick-and-mortar store. The device will only be initially available in the US. The international sales are planned to commence towards the end of 2024, with the UK, and Canada expected to be the first markets outside the US. Expansion plans for Europe and Asia are already underway, with Apple engineers working to localize the device for France, Germany, Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, and Korea.
Delays and Future Developments
While Apple’s official stance for the current launch date is to allow developers sufficient time to build compelling software, manufacturing issues may be the real factor influencing the decision. Early reports indicate a drastic cut in initial production goals for Vision Pro by almost 90 percent, from 1 million units to a mere 130,000 to 150,000 in the first year. The company has also reportedly postponed the introduction of more affordable Vision Pro models until 2025. The Vision Pro, touted as Apple’s inaugural “spatial computer,” is aimed primarily at early adopters and enthusiasts. The true potential of VR and AR headsets and their use cases beyond consuming 3D media is yet to be fully explored. Apple does not anticipate partnering with third-party resellers to offer the Vision Pro until at least 2025. The complex supply chain logistics, extensive staff training involved in handling the device, and advising customers are cited as reasons behind this decision.
Overcoming Complex Logistics
The supply chain complexities for Vision Pro aren’t just about manufacturing. The entire purchase process, from pre-order to fitting, has been designed to be highly personalized. To facilitate the scanning, fitting, and customization process, Apple requires a significant amount of space and highly trained staff, making it hard for third-party retailers to provide the same level of service without considerable investments in training and infrastructure. Beyond the logistics, there is a deeper strategy. By controlling the retail process so tightly, Apple can provide a carefully curated customer experience, ensuring that every Vision Pro user gets the maximum benefit and satisfaction from their device. This level of control over the customer experience is part of Apple’s brand identity and part of what justifies the high price tag of their products.
Preparing for A Tech Revolution
The Vision Pro, Apple’s inaugural foray into spatial computing, carries a lot of expectations. While it is primarily aimed at early adopters and enthusiasts, its success could significantly influence the broader acceptance of AR and VR technology. If Vision Pro can provide compelling use cases beyond just consuming 3D media, it could potentially revolutionize industries ranging from education and entertainment to design and healthcare. The Vision Pro is also a test for the retail sector. With the unique purchase and fitting process, it will be interesting to see how customers react and adapt to this new buying experience. If successful, it could pave the way for more tech companies to create similar personalized and immersive buying experiences.
The launch of Vision Pro and its subsequent expansions are significant steps for Apple and the tech industry as a whole. With the expected arrival of more affordable models in the future, it seems that Apple is set on a path of innovating and improving the AR and VR technology landscape. While there are considerable challenges ahead, from meeting production targets to navigating international sales, the Vision Pro’s release signals Apple’s commitment to forging ahead in the new era of spatial computing. As we move towards the official launch of Vision Pro, both consumers and industry analysts will be keenly watching the market reaction and the wider impact on the AR and VR industry. The Vision Pro’s journey, from its unique purchasing process to the user’s experience, will be under scrutiny as the world anticipates the potential of this new device in shaping the future of technology.