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Pre-ordering Apple Vision Pro? These 5 questions can help you decide

A lot of people are battling FOMO with Apple Vision Pro pre-orders starting today. Here's how to turn it into a thoughtful decision.
Written by Jason Hiner, Editor in Chief
Apple Vision Pro demo at WWDC 2023
Jason Hiner/ZDNET

Apple Vision Pro pre-orders start today, Friday, January 19 at 8:00 am Eastern Standard Time and I'm hearing lots of people debating whether to take the plunge and put in their order. There's plenty of FOMO going around, and the fact Apple will reportedly have a limited supply of 80,000 units or less to sell is only feeding the fear of being left behind. 

Also: 9 reasons people say they plan to pre-order Apple Vision Pro 

If you're considering whether to buy a Vision Pro, you may be concerned that if you don't make your order early when the window opens, then you could end up waiting for months (or longer) like launch buyers of the Nintendo Wii or PlayStation 5, for example.  

But FOMO is never a good reason to make a buying decision, especially when it comes to technology. So I've got five questions to help you consider whether the Apple Vision Pro could be a good purchase for you. If you answer a definitive "yes" to any of these questions, then you could be a good candidate. If you answer multiple questions affirmatively, then you are probably the target audience for Vision Pro. 

Also: I tried Apple Vision Pro and it's far ahead of where I expected

Before we get to those questions, keep in mind that there is a lot of useful tech you could purchase for the price of a Vision Pro. To put it in perspective, you could buy a new iPhone 15, iPad Pro, a MacBook Air, an Apple Watch, and AirPods Pro for less than the cost of the Apple Vision Pro at $3,500, as ZDNET's David Gewirtz recently pointed out. I'll make it even simpler. If you're in need of a new laptop, then you could get a well-configured MacBook Pro with M3 Max for the price of an Apple Vision Pro -- and I'm confident you'd get a lot more use out of the Mac. 

Still, none of those other products would be as groundbreaking or as exciting as stepping into the Apple Vision Pro. So, if you have the budget and you're considering it, then here are five questions to ask yourself to help make the decision. 

1. Are you a developer working on VR, AR, or XR? 

By far, the best reason to get an Apple Vision Pro is because you are a software developer and want to consider creating apps and software for VisionOS or help others port their software to VisionOS. At least this is the reason that potentially has the highest return-on-investment. As with the iPhone -- and to a lesser extent, the iPad -- there may be an app land grab on the Vision Pro since the people who buy one will be eager to try new things and download lots of apps.  

Also: Preordering the Apple Vision Pro? You'll have these hoops to jump through

Vision Pro is likely to see slower growth than iPhone or iPad, but getting in early will still be a great way to establish mindshare and branding for an app on the new platform. That said, developing immersive, spatial computing experiences for the Vision Pro will involve lots of complexity and likely some trial and error. So, you should think of it as a long game that will require a lot of adaptability and commitment, rather than a way to make a quick buck.  

Vision Pro demo at an Apple Store

The ordering process can include a fitting at an Apple Store.


2. Are you someone who people rely on for tech advice? 

If you are the tech support for your family, friends, and neighbors and the person everyone goes to for their tech questions, then you should be prepared for what's coming in 2024. Apple Vision Pro is very likely to be the most talked about topic in tech. And as we saw with the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and AirPods launches, that awareness and buzz tend to quickly spread to the wider population.  

So, you should expect people to come at you with questions like "Have you tried Apple Vision Pro and is it really worth $3,500?" and "Why are people getting this Apple device that you wear on your face and is it as good as they say?" If you haven't used it, then you might be in danger of losing a little of your tech cred.  

Also: Sony's new XR headset is more 'pro' than Vision Pro and has 2 features Apple needs

Now, if you work in tech then the situation naturally goes to a whole different level. You may get asked by your employer, your boss, and/or your colleagues about what Vision Pro will mean for your organization. If it's critically important to have an answer, then you may even be able to appeal to the company to purchase one and expense it.  

Of course, you could always schedule a demo of the Vision Pro at an Apple Store and try it that way so that you can at least speak to the topic. Only you can judge if that will be enough to satisfy the people who are likely to query you. 

3. Are you a photo or video expert ready for what's next? 

When you try the Vision Pro for the first time, one of the most compelling features is the spatial videos and photos. You have to experience them for yourself, because it's very difficult to describe the emotional reaction when seeing them. It's more like stepping into a video or photo than looking at one. For that reason, they could quickly become the must-see feature of the Vision Pro and the biggest factor driving people to consider a purchase.  

Beyond that, this could be the proof point to open a whole new world of three-dimensional photography and videography that will transcend the Vision Pro and become part of other cameras, headsets, and smart glasses. The difference between today's photos and videos and these next-gen spatial photos and videos feels like it could be a bigger leap than the transition from black-and-white to color. If you are a photo or video professional or enthusiast, then this could be one of the most exciting moments in your personal or professional journey. And Vision Pro will give you one of the first chances to seize it. (There's also an opportunity to capture spatial videos on an iPhone 15 Pro and view them on a Meta Quest headset, but look for a future article on that.) 

Apple Vision Pro demo at WWDC 2023
Jason Hiner/ZDNET

4. Do you invest your disposable income on living in the future? 

If you are a technology enthusiast who simply loves to live on the cutting edge of the latest technologies, then the cutting edge has never been sharper than this one. Apple has poured so many of the technologies and services that it has built up over the past two decades in the Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and the AirPods into one device and combined them with new capabilities to make a product that will deliver a new generation of immersive digital experiences. 

Also: Apple is now marketing Vision Pro as the 'ultimate entertainment device'

That's why it's so expensive. That's also why it has some critical compromises, like the weight of the headset and the external battery. And that's why Apple can reportedly only make about a half million of them for all of 2024. Vision Pro is a product that's realistically a couple years ahead of its time. But you have to start somewhere. We need to see what people want to use these headsets for when you give them something as powerful as this. And we need to see what developers can build for them, when they have a canvas as big as this. It could turn out to be an idea that's even further ahead of its time than Apple thinks. But participating in this experiment is a chance to live in the future, if that's your thing.  

5. Are you an Apple enthusiast who gets joy from these products? 

And then there's the Apple fan. Sony, Amazon, Android, Samsung, and TikTok are all examples of tech brands known for rabid fan bases. Apple fans have a reputation for being among the most loyal, and the fact that Apple has maintained such a high level of fan loyalty for so many decades is admirable. The iPhone has taken it to new heights, of course. 

With its eye-watering price tag and a technology unfamiliar to most people -- whether you want to call it VR, AR, or spatial computing -- the Vision Pro will test the limits of Apple's fan loyalty. So, if you are an Apple enthusiast and you have never been a fan of VR but you're still thinking about ordering the Vision Pro because you're deeply embedded in the Apple ecosystem and you want to see where it's going next, then there's nothing wrong with enjoying that journey. 

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