When Apple announced the price of the Vision Pro Headset, the company also revealed its intentions to make this experience accessible to the elite few who can afford it. Priced at $3499, Vision Pro has stirred mixed sentiments from the market, most of who think the device is overpriced.
Apple’s Luxury AR Experience
The headset which has both Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) capabilities is comparable to Meta’s Quest Pro, which is currently priced at $1000, making Vision Pro more than three times more expensive despite the fact that it is more advanced than the rival headsets.
Before revealing the price, Mike Rockwell, VP of AR and VR at Apple, said: “If you purchased a new state-of-the-art TV, surround-sound system, powerful computer with multiple high-definition displays, high-end camera and more, you still would not have come close to what Vision Pro delivers.”
While users expected the device to be pricey, few foresaw that it would be this pricey. The price reveal was met with a loud gasp from the crowd at the Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC).
Audience reaction when Apple announced the $3500 price for the headset pic.twitter.com/GuGUFbN08A
— TTI (@TikTokInvestors) June 5, 2023
However, considering the device has the ‘Pro’ monicker, it is probable that the company is working on a less-powerful version with fewer capabilities but one that is much more affordable. If reports by Bloomberg are to be believed, then the tech giant “is already working on a cheaper model to get the new product category onto the faces of more people.”
To pull this off, Apple will have to downgrade some of the technology and components employed in the Vision Pro or swap the most expensive components for cheaper ones.
The most expensive components in the headset are the dual Apple silicon chips, the dual 4K micro-OLED virtual reality screens, and the camera and sensor array.
To make a more affordable version with less performance, Apple may have to use lower-quality screens, an iPhone-grade chip or an older Mac chip, and fewer cameras. The company could go further and simplify the strap design by getting rid of the strap with speakers in the Vision Pro and instead relying on Air Pods for spatial audio.
Also, switching to a physical rather than automatic Interpupillary Distance (IPD) adjustment, which adjusts the distance between the user’s eyes, and eliminating features like the 3D camera will cut down the cost further.
Nonetheless, with the downgrade of components and features, it is expected that Apple will retain the eye- and hand-tracking mechanism, as well as the external EyeSight screen that displays the wearer’s eyes which are the company’s competitive edge over other headsets in the market.
The affordable version is expected to debut in 2026, which is a long period of time during which competitors might have upped their devices and captured the market segment. While the market waits, is the current Vision Pro price tag justified?
Is Apple’s Vision Pro Priced Justifiably or Overpriced?
According to an alleged bill of materials disclosed by leaker Revegnus, the components used to build a single unit of the Vision Pro may actually be costing Apple just $1,509. The bill shows that the Sony dual inner displays, which are the most expensive components, cost $350 each.
Apple Vision Pro BOM table
Total cost: $1509
The component with the highest proportion in manufacturing cost is the Sony display, costing $700. Next is the assembly cost for LuxShare, which is $130, followed by the $120 M2 processor. pic.twitter.com/YNZUeiwcp1
— Revegnus (@Tech_Reve) June 7, 2023
According to the leak, the cost of the Apple M2 chip is $120 whereas the price per unit for the headset’s body, which includes its cloth strap and aluminum frame, is $120. Since Apple outsources most manufacturing and assembly services, the cost of assembly by manufacturing partner LuxShare is $130 per unit.
The cost of all the additional parts such as RAM, storage, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chips, display lenses, and external cameras, help to bring the overall cost to slightly over $1,500.
Important to note is that this bill is not the official bill of materials by Apple but is instead a compilation of known components and leaked or already public prices. As such, given Apple’s position and the ties it already has with suppliers, it’s plausible that the company is paying less.
If the estimated cost is true, then Apple may be asking for too much for the headset. However, this isn’t unusual for many consumer electronics. The majority of products that are rarely sold at cost or a loss are video game consoles, and since Apple is a business, it needs to make money in order to operate.
Additionally, the bill of materials doesn’t include the tremendous cost of the many years of research it did to design the product. As it continues to develop and release new headsets (assuming they perform well), they will almost certainly get cheaper.
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