Could you imagine using a virtual reality headset, as opposed to a keyboard and monitor for work? If you’re like me, no.
If you asked Kevin Roose of The New York Times before Apple’s announcement this week whether he thought Apple’s mixed-reality headset, Vision Pro, would be the beginning of something huge – the likes of the iPhone, he would have said no.
He thought virtual reality was dumb, he’s seen Zuckerberg’s meta verse struggle and seen virtuality never take off, despite improvements in headset quality.
Roost’s views seemed to have turned on a dime.
First, I underestimated Apple’s ability to expand a market, turning a niche product category into a mainstream one. In 2013, there were other smartwatches on the market, and none of them had been huge hits, so I came to the conclusion that the Apple Watch wouldn’t be a huge hit, either. I looked at the bulky, ugly aesthetics of existing smartwatches and concluded that the kinds of people who were willing to wear them on their wrists every day — nerds like me — weren’t a big enough market to matter.
But I neglected to remember that Apple is Apple, and that it has repeatedly demonstrated that it can, through sheer force of will, turn a niche product for nerds into a thing that everyone wants.
Sounds absolutely crazy that mainstream America – consumers and businesses for their employees – would pay over $3,500 for a large device fastened to one’s head that requires a cord running down the user’s back.
Crazier things have happened – well maybe almost as crazy.
Ten or fifteen years ago, I bought a thousand dollar cell phone so I could take pictures of my daughter’s graduation. I’m on the 13th one of those “cameras.”
One computer wasn’t enough, so I bought an iPad to carry around with my laptop and my iPhone.
Big Apple watches were the rage a decade ago. As a runner, I couldn’t imagine wearing anything that big – and ugly – on my wrist for running.
Couldn’t imagine the watch taking off, the same one I wear everyday for my run and throughout the day. I’ve now been looking at a new one. $500 on a watch because it’s Apple.
Apple, like no one else, has been able to turn products for nerds, as Roose calls it, into something everyone wants.
Another error [Roose] made with the Apple Watch back in 2013 was that I forgot that human behavior is not fixed, and that our ideas of what is considered fashionable and socially acceptable change all the time in response to new technologies.
Our ideas of what is fashionable and acceptable do change – think of how fast AI is becoming acceptable.
Now take how you’d use a virtual reality headset.
“Having all of your iPhone contact, iMessages and iOS settings integrated into a mixed-reality headset from the moment you turn it on could mean the difference between a device you actually use every day, and a novelty toy you shove into a closet after a few weeks.”
Joked to someone on a business call this morning that someone could just walk by “your office” virtually, versus scheduling a Zoom call. Like the good olds days of someone knocking on your office door,. Except you’d be more productive.
Crazier things have happened than virtual reality becoming the norm, especially when Apple – the most valuable company in the world and notorious for turning geek toys into a social norm – is behind this virtually reality.