Has Apple Changed VR and AR’s Trajectory with the Vision Pro?

The arrival of Apple’s VR-AR headset might be a watershed moment. Forrester and Gartner offer perspective on where this tech niche is heading.

Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Editor

February 16, 2024

At a Glance

  • What roadblocks slowed VR adoption?
  • Is spatial computing a frontier developers want to lean into?
  • Is VR an entertaining distraction? Is it more than a toy?

Apple’s Vision Pro headset became available to the public this month, bringing another high-profile entry in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to the market. To no one’s surprise, Mark Zuckerberg quickly downplayed the Vision Pro while lauding Meta’s Quest 3 headset as a “better product” at a more affordable price.

Independent reviews of the Vision Pro are rolling in, with some pointing out the much higher cost of the new headset and noting that Quest 3 might be “good enough” for many buyers.

The wearable, visual device market is far from new with a history that includes early iterations of VR headsets that became novelties in video games and science fiction. Somehow, the 1992 movie adaption of Stephen King’s “The Lawnmower Man” worked VR into the script for rather mind-boggling reasons. That era’s hype associated with VR technology introduced the public to the idea of diving into trippy digital landscapes, but mainstream interest eventually petered out.

In more recent years, VR has been an element of the video game industry with some titles releasing VR versions in an attempt to sell an immersive, first-person experience.

Meanwhile augmented reality took a mixed road from offerings that have included smartphones and their cameras to overlay content as people move around the world. Pokémon GO, for example, has been credited with making AR, along with location technology, more mainstream as players walked about playing the game.

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Even with perceived potential for the technology, AR has seen some dead ends. Last year, Google killed its Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2 and had some decisions to make about other possible AR projects.

So now Apple’s Vision Pro is out, offering VR and AR, with spatial computing that lets users control and use software and apps through the headset. This includes Bloomberg Pro that lets subscribers access news, research, and other content. Consumer brand Mars ran a Snickers AR experience, via Blippar, for its candy tied to Super Bowl LVIII.

Vision Pro enters a market that has already seen the likes of the Microsoft’s HoloLens line and other notable players. What, if anything, is different this time?

This edition of DOS Won’t Hunt is a combination of two separate interviews conducted with analysts from Forrester and Gartner. Each discussion offers perspective on what the Apple Vision Pro means to the market, as well as the state of this niche’s evolution.

The interviews with each analyst are also available in separate individual episodes in the links below.

Related:How Artificial Intelligence Could Boost Artificial Reality

Listen to the full podcast with both interviews here.

Forrester’s J.P. Gownder on Apple Vision Pro and VR/AR.

Gartner’s Tuong Nguyen on Apple Vision Pro and VR/AR.

About the Author(s)

Joao-Pierre S. Ruth

Senior Editor

Joao-Pierre S. Ruth covers tech policy, including ethics, privacy, legislation, and risk; fintech; code strategy; and cloud & edge computing for InformationWeek. He has been a journalist for more than 25 years, reporting on business and technology first in New Jersey, then covering the New York tech startup community, and later as a freelancer for such outlets as TheStreet, Investopedia, and Street Fight. Follow him on Twitter: @jpruth.

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