Apple’s much-anticipated Vision Pro headset has reportedly faced production setbacks due to the complexity of the device and related difficulties. The Financial Times reported that Apple and Chinese manufacturer Luxshare, who have partnered for the headset assembly, are planning to manufacture fewer than 400,000 units in 2024, a stark deviation from the original target. Apple had previously set an ambitious internal sales target of 1 million units for the first year of Vision Pro’s launch. This new development indicates a significant adjustment in Apple’s forecast, with the technology giant only ordering enough components to build a maximum of 150,000 units in its first production year. These changes have led to speculation that Apple is shifting its plans for the release of an affordable version of the Vision Pro.
The Vision Pro Headset: Blending Realities
Apple introduced the Vision Pro headset during its Worldwide Developers Conference in June. It’s a mixed-reality device, allowing users to switch between augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) modes. With a hefty retail price of $3,500, the device is expected to hit the market in early 2024. The Vision Pro is set to run on a unique operating system, dubbed visionOS. One of its innovative features, Eyesight, will display the user’s eyes on an outward-facing screen. The headset, featuring a custom micro-OLED display system with 23 million pixels, a three-element lens, a spatial audio system, and an eye-tracking system, is expected to usher in an era of “spatial computing,” blending digital content with the physical world.
Production Challenges and Price Tag
Manufacturing challenges lie at the core of Vision Pro’s production delay. The production of the two micro-OLED displays and the accompanying outward-facing lens pose the greatest difficulties. The high-resolution displays and the lens, projecting the wearer’s eyes to the outside world, exceed anything currently on the market. Apple’s suppliers, Sony and chipmaker TSMC have struggled to meet the tech giant’s demands, with the number of defect-free displays remaining discouragingly low. These challenges have also contributed to the device’s hefty price tag, which tech consultancy founder Jay Goldberg referred to as the result of Apple understanding “the cost of production inefficiencies.” Despite these issues, analysts at Canalys forecast that the Vision Pro will amass a user base of over 20 million five years post-launch.
Samsung’s XR Headset: A Delayed Launch
Meanwhile, Samsung has postponed its XR headset release by “one to two quarters” from its initial early 2024 target. The delay is said to be a direct response to the unveiling of Apple’s Vision Pro. Samsung, partnering with Qualcomm and Google, has informed its display manufacturing partners, Samsung Display and China’s BOE, of the delay in releasing their “existing XR devices.” The Korean tech giant was initially set to mass-produce the device early next year. However, this has now been pushed back by approximately three to six months.
Future Competition in the XR Market
The premium XR headset market is heating up, with both Samsung and Apple positioning themselves to compete head-to-head. It’s a fascinating space to watch, with Apple’s Vision Pro slated for an early 2024 release and Samsung’s high-end XR headset following closely behind. As the race intensifies, it remains to be seen how both tech giants will perform in the promising but demanding mixed reality market.
The Outlook for Mixed Reality Tech
The promising but highly challenging mixed reality landscape continues to evolve at a rapid pace. The delays experienced by Apple and Samsung underscore the complexity of developing and manufacturing cutting-edge, high-resolution XR technology. The technology brings together the physical and digital worlds, necessitating a blend of innovation in hardware, software, and user experience design.
Challenges and Opportunities
In light of the production issues, it is clear that both Apple and Samsung are grappling with complex design, high production costs, and demanding manufacturing processes. However, these challenges also represent opportunities. The companies’ substantial investments in research and development, their commitment to overcoming production hurdles, and their readiness to adjust release schedules underline their determination to offer top-notch products to consumers.
Consumer Expectations and Market Trends
Consumer expectations for mixed reality devices are high, with users eagerly awaiting devices that provide seamless integration of digital content with the real world. These devices are expected to revolutionize various sectors, from gaming and entertainment to education and professional training. The market trends indicate a growing appetite for immersive experiences. Despite the high price points, analysts predict a large user base for these high-end devices within a few years after launch. Canalys, for instance, estimates a user base of over 20 million for Apple’s Vision Pro five years post-launch.
As the world anticipates the release of these devices, it’s clear that both Apple and Samsung are vying for a share in the lucrative mixed reality market. These devices represent the next leap in technology, marrying the physical and digital realms in unprecedented ways. While challenges persist, both tech giants’ ongoing developments and adjustments underline their commitment to meet the high expectations set for these ground-breaking devices. The future of mixed reality looks bright, albeit demanding, promising a new era of immersive experiences.