Apple is hoping its new Vision Pro headset will shepherd in the era of “spatial computing,” but apparently the company’s aspirations might include replacing TVs, too.
Which, if you watched Apple’s demonstrations for the VR headset, makes sense. The company leaned on the ways people can enjoy a range of media, from movies and TV shows to games, while wearing the hardware on their face.
And the company certainly has an argument to make, especially for the folks who might not have a way to equip their home with a big TV or an assortment of house-shaking speakers. Indeed, Apple showcased an individual in an apartment that otherwise might not be able to really enjoy a TV show like Apple TV+‘s “Foundation” if it weren’t for the headset on their face.
Another example— say you’ve got a covered balcony with a swing out there, and you wouldn’t mind sitting out there during a stretch of nice weather to watch a movie or show. What might require a lot of rewiring, installation, and so much more isn’t necessary if you have a Vision Pro. And you don’t even need to worry about interfering with the neighbors.
Or on an airplane for that matter, one of the situations Apple showcased at the Vision Pro unveiling. Though, future users can’t forget that the portable battery pack will only power the Vision Pro for a couple of hours. Not quite enough time to watch a lot of movies out there.
There are use cases for this, and most of them make sense. Maybe you’re traveling and the hotel room you’re staying in doesn’t have a great TV, and obviously no surround sound or subwoofer. Strap on the Vision Pro headset and you’re suddenly ensconced in a personal movie theater, with a screen as big as you want, and spatial audio pumped into your skull.
The fact that Vision Pro can do so much, all in a single package, is a major boon for the headset. Yes, it can help you enjoy a movie or show or sports match in a whole new way. It can also help you send a message without leaving that experience, or check your email and so on.
But, it’s a lonely endeavor. Even a quick scan of Apple’s showcase for Vision Pro presents a lot of individuals using the headset. Having a whole room of headset-equipped people wandering around might be too “Black Mirror” for Apple, but that is the future Apple envisions and is trying to kick-start.
So much so that this is probably the reason why, even with so many rumors hovering around for so long, Apple didn’t actually make a TV. They’ve been working on Vision Pro for almost a decade now, and if at any point they had the collective realization that the headset makes for a better TV, that would be the end of those plans.
So is the TV market just one more area Apple is looking to “disrupt?”
Is the TV market sweating yet?
The question at hand is if the Vision Pro can make a dent in the TV market, like the iPhone did to the digital camera market. Could Apple’s headset, and future versions of it, usher in the quiet death of the TV?
I certainly hope not, but I’m a purist when it comes to movies, but less so for TV shows. I want the TV with Filmmaker Mode and the ability to tweak settings to present the best possible picture. I want the subwoofer that shakes the couch at all the right times.
Even more than that, I don’t want to lose watching those films or TV shows or whatever else with the other person or people in the room with me at the time.
Technically speaking, even if the other people in the room are watching the same movie with their own headsets, they are still there. Still present, still watching the same thing. But it does still feel isolating, a bunch of people on their own personal islands.
It may not be something the TV manufacturers are concerned about right now, considering the headset retails for $3,499. That $3,499 will buy a large, nice television that multiple people can watch at the same time.
But that price tag will go down and the features will keep improving. Maybe it’s more about reading the tea leaves and preparing for what’s coming.
There are times where the Vision Pro makes sense, as mentioned above. The idea of having a personal movie theater always with me is pretty awesome.
But I’m not sure I’m ready for a VR headset to replace my home theater setup — or even just my TV. At least today.