The Apple Vision Pro goes on sale

  • Apple Vision Pro goes on sale in the US. 
  • Apple is hoping the US$3,499 wearable device will boost profits. 
  • Apple CEO Tim Cook assured investors of upcoming developments in AI despite a dip in shares. 

Apple CEO Tim Cook assured investors of upcoming developments in AI despite a dip in shares, despite the positive sales growth in the last quarter of the previous year. The company disclosed a slight increase in revenue compared to the same period the previous year, attributed to record-setting earnings from services and digital content.

Concerns arose regarding the Chinese market, leading to a decline in net sales in Greater China to US$20.8 billion for the latest quarter. In after-hours trading, Apple’s stock experienced a more than 3% slump. Tim Cook, however, downplayed the slowed sales in China, emphasizing that iPhones remained among the most popular smartphones in the country.

“We’ve been in China for 30 years and I remain very optimistic about China over the long term,” Cook said.

Cook shared positive global statistics, noting that the number of Apple devices in use worldwide reached a new high of 2.2 billion. The company achieved a record-breaking revenue of US$119.6 billion, driven by iPhone sales in the holiday season quarter. Profits for the quarter stood at US$33.9 billion, with diluted earnings per share exceeding expectations at US$2.18.

People walk by an Apple store in a shopping mall in lower Manhattan on February 01, 2024 in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by SPENCER PLATT / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Apple’s Vision Pro

Highlighting the upcoming Vision Pro mixed reality headset launch in the United States, Cook described it as a “revolutionary device” ushering in an era of “spatial computing.” He expressed anticipation for people to experience its magic firsthand and announced plans for international availability later in the year.

US stores will introduce the Vision Pro, the tech giant’s much-anticipated headset priced at US$3,499. This launch marks Apple’s first major release since the Apple Watch nearly a decade ago and signifies a significant moment for enthusiasts of virtual and augmented reality, positioning the technology as the next frontier in online experiences post-smartphone.

Despite the high price tag, initial reviews suggest skepticism about the Vision Pro’s potential to be a game-changer, especially in light of the moderate success of comparable, more affordable releases from Meta. Described as an “astonishing” product by The Verge, the headset is also acknowledged for its “big trade-offs” that are hard to overlook.

While The New York Times lauds the product as an “impressive” culmination of years of development and substantial investment, there remains uncertainty about its target audience and purpose. Critics highlight the Vision Pro’s weight, impact on the user’s hair, and the need for a cumbersome battery pack.

People shop at an Apple store in Brooklyn on February 01, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by SPENCER PLATT / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Apple, in a significant promotional effort, featured CEO Tim Cook on the cover of Vanity Fair wearing the Vision Pro. Despite earlier criticism for unveiling the device without trying it, Cook is positioning the product as Apple’s entry into “spatial computing,” distinct from the term virtual reality.

The headset promises a “wow” factor, showcasing state-of-the-art visuals and the unique experience of interacting with floating apps through eye and finger movements. Apple’s marketing envisions users employing the Vision Pro not just for entertainment but also for work and social interactions.

With 600 specially designed apps and games, as well as one million compatible apps, Apple aims to redefine how users engage with entertainment, music, and games. Partnerships with Disney, offering 150 3D movies at launch, highlight the company’s ambition.

Pre-orders for the Vision Pro have been robust, with analysts predicting Apple could sell approximately 600,000 units this year. The long-term vision involves the Vision Pro seamlessly integrating with iPhones and other Apple devices, according to Dan Ives of Wedbush Securities. Customers can experience the headset through appointments at US Apple stores, recognizing the need for precise adjustments and some training due to the unfamiliarity of most consumers with gesture controls.

Apart from the sale of the Vision Pro, looking forward, Cook assured investors of continued investments in emerging technologies, including AI. Apple’s competitors, such as Google and Microsoft, are also racing to lead in AI, a transformative technology across various sectors. Cook pledged to unveil details of Apple’s AI endeavors later in the year, indicating ongoing internal developments and expressing excitement about the company’s future initiatives in the AI domain.