If you were wondering how Apple plans to mass market its upcoming Vision Pro mixed reality headset, leading Apple supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reports that the company is actually looking to make the headset a pretty scarce item from the get-go.

“Apple will produce 60,000 to 80,000 units of Vision Pro for the February 2 release,” Kuo  writes in a recent X post. “Since the shipment is not large, I believe that Vision Pro will sell out soon after the release.”

Vision Pro is due to go on pre-sale January 19th at 5AM PT, priced at an eye-watering $3,500—making it far and away the most expensive ‘consumer-focused’ headset in its class.

Dual Loop band | Image courtesy Apple

And while Kuo maintains that Apple Vision Pro isn’t really positioned to appeal to the masses, it’s ultimately not really a big deal for its launch plans:

“Although Apple has not clearly defined the product positioning and key applications of Vision Pro, and there are doubts that the price is not cheap, the user experience (e.g., giving users the illusion that they can control the user interface with their minds) created by the groundbreaking technology innovations, along with the base of core fans and heavy users, should make it easy to sell out after the release,” Kuo says.

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To put that into perspective, iPhone accounted for 52% of the company’s annual $383.2 billion revenue in 2023, while Mac only accounted for a little over 7% of sales—still over $29 billion. An upper sales volume of 80K Vision Pro units, even at a projected $280 million in revenue, is closer to a rounding error for the company.

Provided Kuo’s analysis is true, this would make for one of Apple’s most ‘artisanal’ products at launch. Granted, at that price it’s likely only hardcore Apple acolytes and would-be software developers will jump on board, the latter of which no doubt will be looking to create apps for what hopes to be a new ongoing hardware platform for the company, and not just a ‘flash in the pan’ experiment.

Kuo has a fairly reliable track record of reporting insider knowledge of Vision Pro. The long-time Apple analyst and supply chain leaker also maintains a lower-priced second-gen version may launch as early as 2025, however the company may be waiting to see how the first is received before fully committing.

Still, the company has a long road ahead, a large part of which is making XR headsets cool somehow, which Apple most recently taken a stab at in its recent hype video featuring pop-culture icons wearing goggles and masks of all types.

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • Arno van Wingerde

    Well, this fits well within the whole picture: this definitely is not aimed at average consumers: they will not exactly stop you from buying it, but the price is certainly not meant to encourage anyone. I had expected more than the 100.000. I guess Apple does not want this one to end up in a bargain bin any time soon! I just hope they follow up with the announcement of the non-pro version quickly, but I expect they want to sell a decent portion of these first.

    • Christian Schildwaechter

      The 100K is for the launch. The main limit seems to be the micro-OLED displays, of which Sony was said to only be capable of producing about 500K in 2024 for 250K AVP. There are rumors that Apple isn’t using Sony displays anymore and instead switched to two Chinese manufacturers, because Sony refused to expand their production capabilities, but that’s still the most likely reason for them to not launch with higher numbers. They’ll produce and sell more over the rest of the year, and hopefully the initially horrible low yields for the displays will go up, but it probably won’t be mass market numbers for a long time.

  • Naruto Uzumaki

    They will sell fewer than 10 000 if you already rich you don t need vr you can just do the stuff you want in real life

    • MosBen

      That’s crazy. OF COURSE it’s going to sell out shortly after launch. Maybe they don’t think that they’d be able to sell 500,000 units, but 100,000 should be pretty doable. And a product that sells out gets to appear to be in demand, even if the production run isn’t huge. And it leaves stores asking for more stock instead of being in a position of having stock sitting on shelves collecting dust.

      • Christian Schildwaechter

        The AVP is actually supply limited, they can’t get enough of the displays to build more. They are using microOLED displays with two stacked layers of white OLED as backlight, and yield for those were horrible low to begin with, forcing them to repair units instead of replacing defective units, as they’d usually do. The AVP is also difficult to build, with est. 10-20x the assembly cost of an iPhone. It requires a lot of manual work, and on their initial runs, only 20% of the produced HMDs passed the quality checks.

        Hardware costs are estimated to be USD 1500-1800, so it’s more likely that they thought that they could sell more than 500K, but simply wouldn’t be able to produce them due to a lack of displays, and set the price accordingly high to lower initial demand, limiting the buyers to mostly hardcore Apple fans and developers.

    • Christian Schildwaechter

      The first 100,000 for the launch on 2024-02-02 sold out within 10h after preorders opened, with all participating Apple stores reporting “There’s no availability within your location”, and delivery dates for online-orders having slipped to mid March.

  • LazyFox

    It’s already obvious that the device wouldn’t be for me, as a consumer, but with so few units being made and sold, the real question becomes: How is it going to be profitable for developers to make software for the headset?

    I already question what one actually does with the headset, and with such a limited user base, it will rely heavily on first-party apps.

    • Yencito

      Same way first iphone/ipad apps did

      • Dragon Marble

        Not the same. The first iPhone already had killer apps: you can make calls, send emails, and browse the internet. So there were plenty of eggs; Apple just needed to hatch them.

        XR technology is in an much earlier stage that still faces the chicken-egg problem. This is not something that can be solved by just building a slicker device and smoother UI.

        Appl Vision Pro is important for the industry, but this is not the iPhone moment.

        • Christian Schildwaechter

          AVP should provide an excellent virtual cinema experience, integration into Apple’s iMessage and Facetime services, can use millions of iPad apps with several much larger screens in parallel, and can be used as a virtual display for a Mac. You are without doubt right about the XR chicken-egg problem. Apple works around that by making AVP’s main usage at launch all about existing, non XR apps.

          The real killer app for iPhone over other phones was a useable web browser that could render regular web sites and intelligently zoom into text, while previous mobile browsers on phones rendered only WML or a HTML subsets on special mobile sites and did a horribly job at rendering regular news sites. Best guess so far for AVP XR “killer feature” are yet unannounced 360° sports/concert live event streams.

          If this is an iPhone moment only history will tell. The initial iPhone provided a template and was affordable (bundled with an expensive AT&T contract), but didn’t offer 3rd party apps or fast data yet. The real iPhone experience launched with its successor iPhone 3G, still the initial launch is considered the “iPhone event”. The same may be true with AVP, with only its successors being affordable and actually useful beyond Apple’s basic apps, but the first serving as the template.

      • Isaac

        The first iphone sold 6.1 million units and the first ipad sold 15 million units. That’s 20 and 50 times of the leaked sales estimate of AVP(300k).

  • Lucky Agung Pratama

    That kind of makes sense, Apple is aware that the market is niche for this product (especially at that price point). For comparison, Hololens 1 and 2 sales were around 300,000 units combined. Not to mention Magic Leap which probably sold far less.

  • MosBen

    This is a good move. Get the headset out into the world and into more developers’ hands. Give them time to build more worthwhile experiences for the device so that it makes more sense as a device for consumers. Then as you ramp up production and lower the cost per unit you can do a price cut before some holiday to keep interest going.

    • Octogod

      This is it.

      It’s a paid dev kit, with tech enthusiasts as a PR boost.

      • Andrew Jakobs

        No it’s not, otherwise they wouldn’t sell it though their consumer Applestore.

        • Octogod

          [ Looks at Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PIMAX, HoloLens, and others on my shelf ]

          Sure.

          • Andrew Jakobs

            And your point is?

          • Octogod

            A leading sales audience of all of these were developers. This will be true here as well.

        • Killahdillah

          dude, apple store means nothing. thats just one layer of a channel. you can create channels by toggling the price. if you sold it for 10,000 you know whos going to buy it and whose not. doesnt matter if you sell it from applestore or through grubhub.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      What developers hands? The thing is being sold in their Applestore, not limited to devs only. I guess most devs won’t get their hands on one unless they already pre-ordered one, oh wait, they can’t.

      • Christian Schildwaechter

        Apple usually doesn’t produce developer kits, devs are expected to get the same devices as regular customers. The only time they released a dev kit in the last 20 years was for the transition from x86 to Apple silicon, where devs could purchase a preproduction Mac Mini. And that wasn’t to create new apps, but so they could test their existing apps for compatibility and recompile them. There were no dev kits for the iPhone, and initially devs could only offer progressive web apps, there were also no dev kits for the iPad or the Apple Watch.

        The AVP launch will be carried by 1st party apps for media and messaging plus the availability of millions of iPad apps, there is no urgent rush to get the device into developer hands. A significant number of those now trying to get their hands on one will be developers, but each of them will know that they won’t make any money from it for quite some time, simple because it will take several years for AVP and its successors to build a significant user base. So again, no rush to get one.

    • Killahdillah

      if youve been working on something slowly over 7 years you should know its going to be good or not. this is the mirror converse of voting with your feet. apple pretty much looked in the mirror and said to themselves they have hot garbage

      • MosBen

        Eh, I think that like MS Apple decided that they wanted to be involved in researching XR and building in-house expertise so that when the technology was ready for prime time they would be well-positioned to move in with a product. But it took longer than people expected for the tech to mature and then Tim Cook got antsy and wanted to push a product out the door. So they’re releasing a product that does some cool stuff that some enterprise and prosumer folks will be interested enough to try out. Again, keep in mind that the first generation iPhone and iPod had some pretty significant issues that didn’t get fixed until the second or third generations.

  • another juan

    numbers make sense, but the weird thing is that they’re making such an expensive marketing campaing for such a niche product

    • ViRGiN

      Gotta plant the seed in public conscience already.

    • xyzs

      Apple had endless money.
      They won’t risk their reputation with a bad launch just to save a few millions…

    • Killahdillah

      its going to be trash.

  • Andrew Jakobs

    So it’s more like a paper-launch.

  • Killahdillah

    Saudi Arabia increases its investment in Magic Leap. $450 million is flowing into the company. right before vision pro coming out. thats bold. they must know something about vision pro