The Vision Pro: Popularity, Availability, and Iteration

I’ll join the digital queue this Friday morning to purchase my Vision Pro. This is an interesting product as we head towards its launch because it appears that while it won’t be a big seller (on an Apple scale), it may still be hard to buy.

If the rumors are true, those fancy screens are hard to make and will limit the number of units Apple can ship. I also can’t help but wonder if Apple doesn’t particularly want to make this first iteration of the Vision Pro something that sells in the millions. I suspect they are still figuring out the product category themselves and getting feedback from a few hundred thousand users will give them a lot of good ideas.

The Vision Pro is expensive, and the story is unclear. A lot of the Apple faithful will pass, at least initially. This point landed for me in a recent MacSparky Labs meetup. Labs Members like Apple products. A lot. Yet we had a room full of Apple fans and only a few of them intend to buy one. Again, I expect that is due to the price and the fact that people aren’t sure what they would do with it.

The interesting point is that despite the fact that demand for the Vision Pro is lower than for other Apple products, the rumored limited quantities could still make it hard to get. (Strange, right?)

Regardless, the story of this product is not about its first iteration. Apple is thinking long-term, as they always do. Fourteen years ago, John Gruber wrote about how iteration is Apple’s superpower. Here we go again.

Apple and Support for Old Hardware

There are a lot of knocks against Apple that, when I hear them, I say, “Yup. That’s about right.” They charge too much for storage on new Macs. They’re secretive about new products, which is smart. But they are also often secretive about little stuff, which seems dumb. They are way too stingy with free iCloud storage. (5GB?! Really? In 2022?)

But then there is a separate category of knocks against Apple that baffle me. One of those is the idea that they cripple old devices, so you’ll buy a new one. Where do people get that idea? Until recently, my wife was running a 10-year-old MacBook. I know multiple people that are still using an iPad 2. (The iPad 2 shipped in 2011.) The same goes for the iPhone. When measured against the march of technology, Apple supports ancient iPhones.

John Gruber recently posted a story about Google dropping support for their Pixel 3, a three-year-old phone. At the same time. Apple still supports the iPhone 6S, which shipped in 2015. I honestly don’t get the argument that Apple is usint software updates to kill old hardware. In reality it is just the opposite.

If you look at the iPad in particular, I know a lot of people running old hardware quite happily. Apple keeps the software updates coming and the iPad is like the energizer bunny. It just keeps going and going. I have a theory that we’ll get similar longevity from Apple Silicon Macs, but that remains to be seen.