Jun 9, 2023 7 min read

🍎 Wiser! #127: Is Apple's Vision the iPhone moment for the Metaverse?

Wiser! #127: When the iPhone was launched in 2007, it redefined the smartphone market. But not initially, it took the addition of the App Store to disrupt the sector. The latest product from Apple is the Vision, a AR headset that promises to do the same. Can it?

🍎 Wiser! #127: Is Apple's Vision the iPhone moment for the Metaverse?

w/Wiser! #127 - 9th June 2023

For 24 hours this week, there was only 1 story that dominated the headlines. And it wasn’t Norway’s Viggo Venn winning Britain’s Got Talent with his hi-viz antics. Instead, the star of the show was Apple CEO Tim Cook who made the much anticipated launch of Apple’s first product since the Apple Watch in 2015 and the Airpods in 2016 at this year’s annual developer’s conference. Why there? Because Apple knows that the success of any product depends on its utility. And that means apps. The iPhone wouldn’t be the dominate smartphone if it wasn’t for the App Store.

The product in question is the Vision Pro, a $4,000 augmented reality headset that takes digital content and overlays it before your very eyes, whilst you are wearing a very sophisticated pair of ski goggles. It’s a product that the tech followers and Apple aficionados have been speculating over for at least a year. And it’s still not here yet! You’re going to have to wait until next year for the company’s first new personal computer device in nine years.

To be clear, this is an Augmented Reality experience, not a Virtual one? What’s the difference, I hear you ask? Virtual Reality is when you put on a pair of headsets that replace the real world with a digitally created one. What you see it not real, but a world that’s been created for you. It might be a representation of someplace that really exists, but when you’re inside the glasses, you’re in a created world.

However, Augmented Reality is when you add to and enhance the real world around you. Looking at reality through a pair of sophisticated computer-glasses, the Vision Pro overlays content (apps, movies, zoom calls, data) in front of your eyes to enhance your experience.

(Ed Note: technically speaking, the Vision Pro is a VR device, but the experience it creates is of an Augmented one and so, for all intents and purposes, it’s an AR device. Apple are NOT trying to recreate the VR experience you get from Meta’s Quest headsets, the market leaders in gaming headsets**).**

What does it do?

The easiest way to think of the Vision Pro is to imagine apps in your glasses instead of on your phone screen. Because that’s what it is doing, displaying apps in front of your eyes and the real world around you.

For example, you could have a Facetime or Zoom call with friends or colleagues and they would appear lifesize in front of you rather than appear as a 2D image on a screen. Other use cases include immersing yourself inside a 3D video you made with your kids, or an office worker using Vision Pro to scroll through web pages or write emails, to obvious uses like watching a movie while on an airplane.

The point is that the Vision has been presented as a new device for doing everything that you can do today with an Apple product (iPhone, iPad, Mac), except that the experience is an immersive one.

The way the Apple Vision works is to use 12 cameras to capture the outside world, and uses them to display an augmented version of the real world on postage-stamp sized screens in front of your eyes. This, of course, takes time and demonstrates the genius that is Apple, because they are probably the only company in the world that could pull this off technically.

In less than 12 milliseconds, the Vision Pro will capture the images of the world around you, process them and then present them back to your eyes with the additional data and content you asked for. This process has to be no more than 12 milliseconds because that’s the threshold for your brain to notice any sort of delay between what you see and what your body expects you to see (which is what causes known VR issues like motion sickness.)

Users control the Vision Pro with their eyes whilst the headset listens to your voice and follows your hand gestures. No mouse, keyboard or trackpad to scroll a screen or switch apps.

To be clear, this is still all marketing speak because very few have seen the headsets outside of Apple. Over the next week, you’ll start to see reviews by journalists getting first dibs at the pre-production headsets. For now, all we can go on is what Cook told us at the WWDC conference.

So, why is there excitement about the Vision Pro?

Well, its because the promise of the Vision Pro is to take your computer out of the desktop and put it directly in front of your eyes. The Vision Pro removes the need for a screen because it’s using glasses instead.

If they pull this off, which is not immediately obvious to me that they will, you can imagine the narrative when we look back at the key milestones in tech history: the PC/Mac made computing accessible to the masses. The iPhone put computing into your pocket and gave us mobility. The Vision Pro removed the need for a computer altogether.

Personally, I’m sitting firmly on the fence when it comes to the Vision Pro. I see a future in Augmented Reality, which has much more utility and likelihood of mainstream adoption than Virtual Reality. However, the price point is seven times greater than the market leading VR headset. I just don’t see the value equation balancing out between the price and utility of the Vision Pro. Even for Apple, this requires a huge leap of faith to be an early adopter of a product that is likely to have many iterations before it gets to its optimum configuration.

Having said all that, in 2007 when Jobs announced the iPhone, the price point of $500 was more than double the Blackberry, the market leader at the time. We all know where that ended up!

If anyone is going to pull this off, it’s Apple.

Now, you can see for yourself.

In other news…

Louis Vuitton’s $42k NFT trunks

Louis Vuitton has launched a limited series of NFTs for a few hundred select LV customers to buy a $42k 'Treasure Trunk' NFT. Each NFT is defined as 'soulbound,' which is fancy marketing speak for they cannot trade or be transferred after purchase. The NFT will get them a physical made-to-order Louis Vuitton trunk, and grant them access to exclusive products, early releases and bespoke experiences.

Here’s The Thing: NFTs may not be very fashionable to talk about at the moment, with all the attention going to AI, but I’m not seeing any let up in consumer brands experimenting with NFTs as a way to enhance customer engagement. This particular example is a bit rich for my tastes, but there’s a market for products that deliver scarcity and status, whether they’re digital or physical.

(Are you curious about how global brands use emerging technologies, like NFTs, to engage with customers? If yes, check out the Brand Strategy Collection for a up to date library of use cases for over 250 consumer brands.)

SEC go after Binance and Coinbase

The Securities and Exchange Commission has filed lawsuits against Binance and Coinbase this week in Ka! Pow! move over unregistered securities. Both lawsuits claim that the two crypto exchanges operate as unregistered securities exchanges. Binance faced additional allegations that its CEO Changpeng Zhao secretly control Binance.US, the US exchange that publicly said it was independent and separate from Binance. And that it commingled billions of dollars of customer assets.

Here’s The Thing: This question of whether a particular crypto is a security or not is a highly technical one that’s been unresolved for years. I don’t get why it’s still an issue that’s dogging these exchanges and hanging over more than a dozen cryptos listed by the pair of them. If there is anything good to come out of this then it would be to clear the definition up once and for all.

Twitter’s new CEO takes the helm

Twitter’s new CEO Linda Yaccarino started on Monday. Good luck with that one, trying to figure out how to (a) restore the reputation of the brand, whilst (b) having only a handful of staff, and (c) running at half the previous revenue but carrying an increased debt in excess of $13 billion, and (d) having Musk as your boss! And if you hadn’t seen it, a new report this week found that Twitter failed to take down known images of child sexual abuses even after they were told about them.

Here’s The Thing: Twitter was always a brand that punched above its weight. At its peak, it only had 200 million users, compared to Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube that count their user numbers in billions. But now its a company that is worthless. At $2.5 billion annual revenue, at a multiple of 3 or 4, comparable to Facebook or Google, the company is worth $7-10 billion. But with $13 billion is debt, it’s not worth nothing. It’s going to take a miracle to turn that around, which is why I am sticking to my prediction that Musk will walk away empty handed.

Amazon to offer cheap/free phone calls

According to Bloomberg, Amazon is in discussions with multiple US-based phone carriers about offering cheap, around $10 a month, or even free phone service to Prime customers. The company is reportedly negotiating with Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile as well as the Dish Network, though it sounds like talks with AT&T have fallen off in recent weeks.

That's all for this week folks!

P.S. For the next 3 weeks I will be travelling and taking some time out to explore Spain. I'll post some newsletters over the coming weeks, but it might not be to the normal schedule...so, don't worry if you don't get your weekly Wiser! when you expect it, there will be one coming soon enough.

P.P.S Like Apple at the developer's conference this week, there's no mention of artificial intelligence in this week's issue of Wiser!

Further Reading

P.s. Remember: Insight and Information Gives You Leverage!

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