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FOV's view on Apple's new XR headset, the Vision Pro

And what it means for startups and investors

Update: we’ve now uploaded the recording of our Apple Vision Pro: Investor Roundtable that we hosted alongside three other brilliant investors in this space, Amal (Anorak Ventures), Andreas (RFC), Arian (Earthling). The recording took place exactly one week on from WWDC and several days after writing this post.

Many in the XR industry have been waiting patiently for 8+ years to witness their ‘iPhone moment’. After months of speculation on specs and pricing, Apple have finally launched their first headworn spatial computing device, the Apple Vision Pro headset.

Whether or not this is a true ‘iPhone’ moment, has yet to be seen. With its high price and ‘Pro’ positioning, we still have some time to realise the full impact of Apple’s market entry. But without a doubt, this is a true game changer. And with Apple entering the fray this feels like another strong sign of the inevitability of spatial computing.

Whilst leaving room for criticism in some areas, Apple have really played to their strengths. And in doing so have potentially redefined and rebooted the entire category for a much larger audience. As our friend Remi Rousseau eloquently puts it:

I'm excited because it feels Apple is rebooting the whole category to something simpler and more universal, because developers will tinker with this thing and play with crazy ideas just like in the Oculus subreddit in 2014, and because it brings to the world the possibilities of spatial computing as a new medium for augmenting human intellect.

Petri & I have both been long-time investors in VR, and with FOV Ventures are the only specialist fund in Europe to spend the majority of our time focusing on the broad set of opportunities within spatial computing, XR and the metaverse. So we’re very excited to see what the current generation of founders and builders are going to create for the device. If you’re working on something then please get in touch!

We’re still digesting the news, so we’ll be writing a longer post soon (most likely updating this post in situ), but here's a few initial takes:

1. This is the start of 3rd major cycle in VR. It started with the Rift, then the Quest and now the Vision Pro. Apple's entry into the market is the starting gun for many newcomers into the industry and we'll likely see a new wave of optimism enter the space, which should have positive effects for all.

2. Apple have leapfrogged the competition with their expertise in design, strong vertical integration, but also a confidence to put out a very expensive headset. Apple have set a new bar in terms of quality for all VR headsets that get released from here on in. Expect investor appetite for the XR space to increase and a rising tide will lift all boats.

3. Apple have succeeded in leveraging their strengths, ie. existing hardware, operating systems and developer ecosystem. Some of these are complicated (chip design, computer vision, spatial audio), but some are very simple (having your photo library and native iOS apps already in headset). This will matter a lot for their vs. other competitors like Meta.

4. At $3499, the price is confidently expensive, but not without justification. The Apple 1 was the same price in today's money. And the first iPhone was seen as expensive at $600 until people realised how much of a game changer it was. Apple also positioned the price as more akin to a high end home cinema setup, or Mac/work setup extension, than compared to buying a home game console. In reality, they're still manufacturing low quantities and this first wave is priced for developers, press and enthusiasts whilst they wait for supply chains to improve and more 3rd party content to be developed. Expect the price to come down by the time a more consumer targeted headset comes out (without the 'Pro' name tag). I can be patient, but it does mean startup founders will have to set expectations on when this ecosystem becomes a viable standalone market.

5. In terms of content, Apple was careful to position this device around productivity, entertainment and media. Unlike the Quest 3, gaming took a back seat (but don't underestimate the lure of Apple Arcade 2D games in an immersive environment) and there was not a cartoony avatar in sight. Spatial Computing is to Apple, what the Metaverse is to Meta, which plays well given the Metaverse hangover the market seems to have in 2023.

At FOV Ventures, we can't wait to get our hands on the device. In the meantime we're keen to hear from any ambitious founders that are excited to build for the Vision Pro and ride this next wave of spatial computing.