Apple Set To Launch Vision Pro

Apple's Vision Pro, set for a February US launch, marks a strategic shift amid slowing iPhone sales.

What is Apple's Vision Pro and when will it launch?

Apple Inc has announced the US launch of its Vision Pro mixed-reality headsets for next month, signaling a strategic pivot as it grapples with declining iPhone sales, particularly in China. This move comes at a time when the tech giant's shares have experienced a downturn this year.

Vision Pro: A Leap Into Mixed Reality

Starting February 2, US customers can purchase the Vision Pro headsets, with pre-orders beginning January 19. Priced at $3,499, this launch marks Apple's most significant product debut since the Apple Watch in 2015. Available online and in all US physical stores, the Vision Pro represents Apple's foray into the realm of "spatial computing".

Apple's shares saw a modest rebound on Monday, rising 1.3%, after a nearly 6% drop earlier this year following downgrades by two banks. The introduction of the Vision Pro headset in 2023 sparked renewed interest in virtual and augmented reality ventures, overshadowed lately by the focus on artificial intelligence technologies.

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, lauded the headset as "the most advanced consumer electronics device ever created," predicting its prominence over the next five to 10 years. However, Gene Munster from Deepwater Asset Management noted that initial sales are expected to be slow.

Apple's Vision Pro
Apple's Vision Pro (Photo: Vjeran Pavic)

Vision Pro's Features And Market Impact

The Vision Pro, running on Apple's new visionOS, merges digital elements with the real world, navigable through eye, voice, and hand commands. Its immersive video format offers a 180-degree interactive experience, compatible with App Store games and Apple Arcade. Touted as the "perfect workspace," the device aims to enhance multitasking and collaboration.

Initially revealed in June 2023 after a seven-year development phase, Apple faced design complexities, leading to reduced production forecasts from 1 million to 400,000 units in 2024. The company has not commented on international availability or expected global shipments.

Analysts' Cautious Outlook On Vision Pro

Despite keen anticipation, analysts remain cautious about the Vision Pro's immediate financial impact. A December report by UBS predicted a limited initial influence on Apple's finances. This cautious stance aligns with recent downgrades by Barclays and Piper Sandler, citing weak iPhone demand in 2024.

Apple's Challenges In China And Supply Chain Diversification

Apple's challenges extend beyond product innovation. iPhone sales in China, a key market, have declined by 30% in the first week of 2024, as reported by Jefferies analysts. Faced with intensifying competition from Huawei, Apple is also navigating macroeconomic shifts in China, affecting both sales and supply chains. Efforts to diversify production to countries like India and Vietnam are underway to mitigate these challenges.

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