Apple’s stock price fell a bit (relative to other big tech companies with which it is perpetually associated) because Mac sales tanked in Q3. Gee, I wonder why? The usual suspects suggested that Apple’s sales are tepid even though services keeps on generating cash and Apple hasn’t been innovating (i.e. where’s my folding iPhone with a shitty plastic screen?).
On Friday, when the VisionPro instantly went into back order status, Apple rose… but underperformed Google et al. And, oh no, Apple is getting the cold shoulder from Netflix.
I forgot that Apple was allowing pre-orders starting yesterday. It will be interesting to see if deliveries continue to get pushed out or if most of the early adopters got their orders in on Friday. In any event, it’s lucky I didn’t book a “cheap” ticket to the US for $1000 so I could buy a VisionPro in California for $5000 and then pay $1200 duty on it when I returned to Finland. I’m also glad I got a Quest 3 to test my stuff on while I wait.
The Osborne Effect
A tiny bit of research shows that there’s huge pent-up demand for the VisionPro (which is apparently not an innovative product) because, unlike these pundits, ordinary users get the idea that this is actually potentially a replacement product for everything.
Sure, v1 won’t have a cellular radio and its battery life will suck. But, once the skeptical Apple-hater has walked past folks sitting on planes or trains with their VisionPros happily working on huge and completely private displays or just enjoying movies on giant virtual screens with surround sound and noise cancellation—without needing to use the shitty meal tray, and with their power coming from the now ubiquitous power jacks on planes that aren’t strong enough to keep their Linux laptops going—they might just be adding one to a shopping cart as soon as they can get decent WiFi.
Netflix (and Spotlight)
Netflix (a.k.a. Microsoft for streaming media, circa 2010) is doing what Microsoft did to the iPhone. Attempting to strangle it by withholding their oh-so-important native app. Shockingly, Netflix works just fine in Safari (barring intentional sabotage).
The Meta Quest has a native Netflix app. It’s absolute garbage, still doesn’t support Mixed Reality on the Quest 3. And the Netflix website works fine (much better than the app) on the Quest 3, until you try to play a video, at which point it seems to think you’re using IE6 and says that they’ve dropped Silverlight support. This is hilarious. It’s this kind of “support” Netflix is denying Apple.
Note that Netflix is in good company—the Quest 3’s own mixed reality support is quite awful—e.g. when you turn on a Quest 3 and put it on, if you have more than one account assigned to the device (e.g. if you’re a developer or have a family) it defaults to the “pick user” screen which is in VR (not XR) so you can’t see where you are.
The whole thing about Android and Windows users is that they’re cost-averse customers who don’t value their own time or understand math. I’ll save 40% on my computer and replace it 2x as often for profit. Or I’ll save 20% on my phone and replace it 3x more often. Or I’ll get my music for free and not be able to listen to what I really want to and have to suffer through ads and stiff the artists I like.
So if I’ve bought myself a VisionPro for $5000 (including tax, spare battery, carrying case, keyboard, etc) so I can be productive anywhere and have the best display technology in the world in a portable system that costs 2.5x more than a decent laptop (before adding at minimum $800 for high quality non-portable external displays, etc.), do you really think I am going to cry tears of blood because I have to use Apple Music instead of Spotify? Or use AppleTV+ to watch exactly what I want to watch at really high quality instead of whatever shit Netflix happens to have?
When Microsoft denied iOS users native Office apps for several years in an effort to boost Windows Phone and prevent iOS from conquering the world, all they accomplished was showing most people that they had no real use for Office apps.
Remember when Steve Ballmer railed against Microsoft employees using iPods on the Microsoft campus?
There are very few of my predictions that I am really sure of but this is definitely one of them. Within five years, almost all of us be using products like VisionPro for most of our work.
There are some caveats:
- The Quest 3 causes me quite a bit of eyestrain after 45-60 minutes. I guess it has to do with focusing distance (and also unvarying focus distance) and eye-separation (the Quest3 has an eye separation adjustment but it makes no sense to me, and the impact is very delayed so it’s hard to choose). Apple’s custom-fitting system may ameliorate some of this but I think ultimately we need the lenses to adjust focus distance, at least somewhat, to match the apparent distance of the target in VR. Not that problematic technologically but it isn’t there yet. My guess is that Apple will at minimum have picked the focus distance more carefully than Meta because they clearly dogfood like a motherfucker.
- Some people still have motion sickness issues from these headsets. John Carmack opined that 90Hz with some low latency (basically sub-one-frame, I think, so 10-11ms) seemed to be the tipping point for the 95th percentile. So I think we’ll need to get to something like 120-200Hz to make it a non-issue.
- It probably won’t be socially acceptable/practical for people in customer-facing jobs to have headsets or even XR spectacles on, so not everyone will be able to use them. And you don’t want to have to put on a headset to enter a customer’s orders in a restaurant. That said, there will be gimmicky restaurants in SF and NY where the waiters all wear headsets. Probably before March!
Remember when pilots started using iPads instead of the folders full of crap they had to carry around? Or when the 747 had to add for HP calculators because pilots used them to work around shitty trip planning tools in aircraft cockpits?
VisionPro is that for everything.
If you’re wearing an XR headset, you don’t need an iPad, an Apple Watch, a Mac (except for processing grunt), or an iPhone (except for cellular data). You don’t need dual external or widescreen displays. You don’t need a giant TV or a short-throw projector.
As an aside, John Gruber asks—quite reasonably—why Apple seems to be almost self-destructively obsessed with service revenue and particularly getting a cut of App Store purchases and subscriptions. I agree but perhaps they’ve wargamed the future and realized that their days of selling their customers a phone, a watch, a Mac, and an iPad are about to disappear, and it may well be that service revenue is pretty much all their revenue when VisionPro devices last five years.
Some folks will be using garbage third-party clones from Microsoft or Meta or some Linux-based startup because they’ll be cheaper or they have a “fuck Apple” attitude, but the alternatives will all be badly trailing Apple even more than they were (and still are) in touch-based UX. Meta couldn’t get its developers to dogfood their product and then fired them and bet the farm on AI. Apple has been working on this thing in secret and dogfooding it for at least five years. And, Apple has been building mobile, power-efficient, ultra-light hardware since the Newton and no-one else has been paying attention.
And yes, I am looooong AAPL.