Apple’s Vision Pro headset is on the horizon, poised to be one of the most technologically advanced devices the company has released in years. Bursting with cutting-edge features that outshine even the best virtual reality (VR) headsets, it’s clear that Apple is set to deliver a remarkable product. From impressive demonstrations to glowing feedback from developers, the Vision Pro has generated considerable excitement.

However, a significant issue looms. The Vision Pro is not only brimming with innovation, but it also comes with a hefty price tag, an expected $3,500. Furthermore, Apple has not yet announced a more affordable alternative. Although rumors hint at a budget-friendly version in development, it’s unlikely to surface before late 2025, leaving a considerable gap in the market.

When the Vision Pro launches in early 2024, potential consumers will face a tough decision: either dig deep into their pockets or watch from the sidelines. This approach severely limits the product’s accessibility, potentially setting Apple up for a repetition of one of its most significant recent mistakes.

A Familiar Tale

Apple's Repeat of Past Missteps: Will Vision Pro's High Price Limit Its Success?

This scenario draws parallels to Apple’s 2018 release of the original HomePod. With exceptional audio specifications, the HomePod was undeniably impressive. However, its exorbitant price made it a luxury purchase. Just like the Vision Pro, Apple didn’t provide a more affordable alternative, leaving potential buyers with an all-or-nothing choice. In the end, many opted for the latter.

Rumors of sluggish sales seemed to indicate that most users valued affordability over premium sound quality. When Apple introduced the HomePod mini, it quickly gained traction, eventually leading to the discontinuation of the original HomePod. While a second-generation HomePod did follow, it was inevitably overshadowed by its smaller sibling.

The concern now is that history may repeat itself with the Vision Pro. By setting such a high price point, Apple could restrict its product’s appeal until a more affordable option emerges. But if and when that happens, how many consumers will willingly invest $3,500 in a high-end headset when a more reasonably priced version serves the majority just as well?

Apple’s Vision

Apple's Repeat of Past Missteps: Will Vision Pro's High Price Limit Its Success?

It’s improbable that Apple will completely abandon the high-end Vision Pro. Reports suggest a second-generation flagship model is already in development, with a focus on reducing size and weight rather than cost. This implies that Apple’s commitment to delivering an exceptional product remains steadfast.

The reason for the Vision Pro’s substantial price tag lies in Apple’s philosophy: to create the best product possible. In this instance, they’ve succeeded. The Vision Pro outpaces its competitors by a significant margin, with the research and production costs rumored to be so high that Apple may barely break even, even at a $3,500 price point.

Apple is betting that consumers will be so astounded by the headset’s capabilities that they’ll overlook the price. This approach has worked in the past, particularly with iPhones, which continue to sell well despite their increasing costs.

However, when you’re dealing with a niche $3,500 product versus a $1,000 iPhone, the dynamic changes. The latter is a device you use multiple times daily, while the former is likely to be more occasional. Convincing people to invest $1,000 is one thing; persuading them to spend $3,500 on a niche product is an entirely different challenge.

The upcoming years will be pivotal for Apple’s Vision Pro. Between its launch and the arrival of a more affordable counterpart, the market will reveal just how much consumers are willing to bear that $3,500 price tag. If it turns out they’re hesitant, Apple could find itself in a situation mirroring the HomePod’s history all over again.