Early Vision Pro availability won’t mean anything either way

There’s a lot of speculation at present about what clues Vision Pro availability may give regarding the popularity of the device.

Whatever happens, we can expect breathless headlines about Vision Pro being either a runaway success or a flop, depending on how quickly or slowly delivery dates slip …

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Vision Pro availability won’t mean much

Initial availability is going to be limited. A supply-chain report last week suggested that Apple will only have 60,000 to 80,000 units in stock on day one.

Although that might sound like a lot, given that Apple is reportedly only expecting to sell 400k units across the whole year, it’s really not that many. We know from the iPhone experience that a huge number of initial orders are placed within minutes of pre-orders open – and that effect will be even stronger for Vision Pro.

Why? Because this is the ultimate early adopter product. Anyone who is willing to shell out $3,500+ on buying Vision Pro at this early stage likely wants it on day one. So of those 400k people, it’s entirely plausible that more than 80k of them will be in the queue to buy the moment it goes on sale.

We could easily be in a situation where delivery dates slip almost immediately without it meaning that the product is a massive success.

Conversely, given the limited size of the total market, the opposite could happen. Apple might have enough stock to satisfy initial orders, with production then keeping up with ongoing demand. So Vision Pro availability might remain immediate without it meaning that the product is a flop.

So neither possibility tells us much.

This is probably just a stepping stone to Apple Glasses

Whether initial orders are brisk or slower-paced really means very little at this stage. Vision Pro is an extremely expensive initial model which isn’t going to set the world alight in terms of sales.

It will likely take years of iterations and variations before a mixed reality product becomes a mass-market one, and likely a decade or more before we have any real sense of whether this is a product category which propels Apple to new heights, or whether it all ultimately fizzles out – or somewhere between the two.

If I had to bet, I’d imagine that the most popular mixed reality product Apple makes will be some kind of Apple Glasses type product, not a fully-enclosed and clunky headset. I think it’s way more likely to be an iPhone accessory than a Mac or iPhone replacement, and that it will effectively fit into the same kind of space as the Apple Watch: an appealing accessory at a price significantly below the iPhone.

But even if I’m wrong, early sales mean little

But let’s suppose I’m completely and utterly wrong, and that Vision Pro is the new iPhone. Even then, early sales numbers tell us almost nothing.

In 2007, Apple sold 1.39M iPhones. Absolutely nobody back then could have foreseen that this would become the most important product Apple has ever made, now exceeding over 200M units per year, and turning Apple into the most valuable(ish) company in the world.

The difference between Vision Pro today and whatever mixed-reality products Apple is selling 16 years from now is completely unimaginable. So too are the likely sales numbers a decade or two from now.

So let’s not get too carried away, whatever happens with day one Vision Pro availability.

Image: Apple

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