Apple Vision Pro Aims To Transform The Retail World

Apple introduced its first new retail product concept in years by announcing the Vision Pro at the Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) on June 6, 2023, with Tim Cook bringing back the missed “One Last Thing”. This new retail product could have a significant impact on retail customer experiences in the coming years.

Introduction – What Is Apple Vision Pro?

What Is Apple Vision Pro?
After many years of speculation, the world saw a glimpse of Apple Vision Pro. The technology company defines the new product line as “spatial computing”. The new system features the most sophisticated mixed reality headset to date with an array of twelve cameras, five sensors, two micro-OLED display systems that can deliver up to 23 million pixels at 90Hz, spatial audio, two processing chips, and a battery pack that lasts more than two hours in continuous use.

This set of technologies allows Apple to build immersive environments for work, entertainment, and general life without ignoring the world around you. Apple notes that the pixel-dense display has a low latency time of 12 milliseconds which reduces headaches and other physical reactions common to wearing immersive headsets.

Inside view of the Vision Pro featuring two micro-OLED display systems capable of displaying 23 million pixels each (more than a 4K tv) at a low latency rate (Source: Apple)

Similar to other Apple products and services, the Vision Pro was designed to protect user privacy and data. It uses a new form of authentication system, Optic ID, which uses the uniqueness of the user’s iris for identity verification. While third-parties applications might have access to cameras inside the headset, the outer set of cameras is restricted to ensure bad actors will not use these cameras with malicious intent.

When it comes to applications, Apple introduces a new operating system for the Vision Pro. Dubbed the visionOS, the new system allows developers to create new methods to communicate (e.g., personas are created for FaceTime or Zoom calls), watch entertainment (e.g., movie theater-like experiences without leaving your home), work (e.g., immersive environments that expand to improve productivity.

Specifically, visionOS brings familiar frameworks like SwiftUI, UIKit, RealityKit, and ARKit in new concepts like spatial computing — windows, volumes, and spaces to create worlds that have depth, scale, and immersion.

Programming with depth, scale, and immersion in mind (visionOS) (Source: Apple)

Users can interact with the environments with their eyes, with new hand gestures tracked by sensors, Magic Keyboard, and Magic Trackpad.

How Can Apple Vision Pro Transform The Retail World?

Let’s start with the price. The new headset will be available for purchase in the United States at a retail price of US$3,499. That is significantly higher than the initial estimates pegging the price at US$1,999. Even with the revolutionary technologies inside the headset. This initial price has been reported by many media outlets as out of reach to mainstream consumers.

Perhaps that is the goal. Apple noted that the Vision Pro will be available in limited supply during its recent quarterly result call days before the WWDC. This was reiterated by the 2024 launch date and the higher pricing.

The “I Need It” Effect

Take My Money
The six to nine months delayed launch, limited quantity availability, higher pricing, and initial praises from technology media outlets will fuel “I Need It” hype and continued attention to the product. Developers and consumers with the financial means will line up to get the first headsets for use, develop, or store unopened. (Sidebar – An unopened first-generation iPhone was auctioned for over US$39,000 back in October 2022. That is 65 times more than the original 2007 retail launch price of US$599.)

Accessories Makers Rejoice

Beyond Apple
With the headset’s imminent launch, many third-party accessory makers will be able to design, build, and sell new items from different colored or material headbands, extended battery packs, specialty headphones, etc. This could generate millions of direct and indirect retail sales.

The side profile of the Vision Pro with the head attachment and spatial audio speaker (Source: Apple)

Developing New Types Of Applications

Developers Can Make A Buck Or Two
While Disney will support Vision Pro from day 1 with an enhanced Disney+ application, other developers could benefit by being first to build and release applications in different categories (e.g., imagine a new weather app that overlays temperature and weather conditions directly to a real-time view of any cities around the world or a new education app that takes students through the 18th century England with a far away curated museum tour without having to catch a flight first.)

Why Not Buy Now?

Brands Can Accelerate Purchase With Immersive Touch Points
Brands of all types can create new immersive experiences to engage and acquire, onboard, and support customers through their product/service journey. For example, someone who has not traveled to London, England before can find comfort in experiencing the travel journey in advance with the airline and airport assistance.

A luxury retailer can use Vision Pro immersive experiences to bring anyone to a live fashion show anywhere in the world and provide the opportunities to buy items at the same time as the models walk down the runway.

Home buyers can use Vision Pro to drive to a property through a mapping app, take a tour of the property, and engage with their real estate agent without leaving the comfort of the living room or office.

Let’s Go To The Mall

In 2024, many curious onlookers would head to a mall with an Apple store anchor to experience the Vision Pro in person. The increased foot traffic will have a direct impact on Apple store sales in the new year. With the right engagement, stores near the Apple Store will receive higher visibility which could positively add to revenue figures. Mall operators would welcome a higher customer volume who could spend money beyond the Apple Store and into food courts, restaurants, experiences, or the movies.

“Today marks the beginning of a new era for computing,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Just as the Mac introduced us to personal computing, and iPhone introduced us to mobile computing, Apple Vision Pro introduces us to spatial computing. Built upon decades of Apple innovation, Vision Pro is years ahead and unlike anything created before — with a revolutionary new input system and thousands of groundbreaking innovations. It unlocks incredible experiences for our users and exciting new opportunities for our developers.”

“Creating our first spatial computer required invention across nearly every facet of the system,” said Mike Rockwell, Apple’s vice president of the Technology Development Group. “Through a tight integration of hardware and software, we designed a standalone spatial computer in a compact wearable form factor that is the most advanced personal electronics device ever.”

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