Apple pitches its $3,500 Vision Pro headset to businesses. Will it catch on?

A man uses Apple Vision Pro at Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress in February. (AFP)
A man uses Apple Vision Pro at Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress in February. (AFP)


Retailer Lowe’s and software developer SAP are among the companies the tech giant is touting as proof of the device’s usefulness to businesses.

Apple is making a push to win over corporate customers to its Vision Pro “mixed-reality" headset, made available in the U.S. earlier this year. But it faces the same challenges as its predecessors—pitching a “face computer" experience that hasn’t yet clicked with a wide business audience.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based company last week announced a crop of enterprise customers that have built “spatial" apps designed to take advantage of the platform’s ability to combine the physical and virtual worlds within a user’s field of view. 

The bet is that early adopters can showcase the headset’s usefulness to corporate information-technology buyers, and justify its $3,500 price.

“There’s a lot of great new use cases in industrial, education, training and healthcare that support that, and honestly, that’s all net-new markets and net-new revenue," said Aaron Levie, chief executive of cloud-content management firm Box, which built a Vision Pro app that gives users access to their files in mixed-reality. “That’s frankly, what we’re most excited about."

Big tech companies and specialty hardware makers have at least for a decade tried to tap in to excitement around immersive digital experiences and push the headset and virtual-reality market beyond gaming. So far, no single vendor has convinced enterprises to buy significant numbers of virtual-reality headsets, analysts say.

Apple hopes to change the equation. Susan Prescott, the company’s vice president of worldwide developer relations and enterprise product marketing, said the Vision Pro helps businesses boost productivity and has “endless potential in the enterprise."

The company said it works directly with customers to integrate and manage Apple devices, and partners with firms like IBM, Deloitte and SAP to help enterprises get started. It declined to say how many businesses have purchased Vision Pro headsets, and how many devices have been sold to companies.

One possible advantage for enterprise developers: The Vision Pro uses a development infrastructure similar to those for iPhones and iPads—which also makes it easier for Apple to attract developers who know its tools. Apple said the Vision Pro is integrated with its mobile device management platform, so IT departments can centrally manage and secure the headsets.

More than 1,000 spatial apps have been developed for the Vision Pro, Apple said, and there are over 1.5 million Vision Pro-compatible apps.

German software maker SAP developed a Vision Pro application for its analytics cloud software, and an app where customers can access many of its products from the same place. The extension of the Apple ecosystem into the Vision Pro lets customers connect their existing Apple devices, said Florian Heretsch, vice president and head of SAP’s mobile experience and engineering.

An everyday work device?

The quality and speed of the Vision Pro’s immersive visuals are what consumers have come to expect from Apple products: crisp and fast.

But using the Vision Pro solely for general-purpose knowledge work isn’t likely, some analysts say. The Vision Pro is heavy—roughly the weight of three large iPhones strapped to a user’s head—and cumbersome for long hours of wear. 

With a $3,500 price tag, it is also expensive. Other virtual-reality offerings, including Meta’s Quest and some from Samsung and Sony, retail for less than $500.

“It’s not like every desk at Cisco has a Vision Pro," said Jeetu Patel, executive vice president and general manager of the company’s security and collaboration products. Cisco has a small number of headsets inside the company that were “handed out selectively," he said.

Patel sees enterprise uses for things like work on-the-go, remote training and videoconferencing, where the Apple headset’s many screens lets users multitask between looking at people and documents in its WebEx videoconferencing Vision Pro app.

Heretsch said SAP’s Vision Pro apps are useful for managers and finance staff, but not yet for every type of employee. SAP said it is using about 50 Vision Pros inside the company to develop apps and collaborate on the development.

Gartner’s immersive technologies analyst, Tuong Nguyen, sees the Vision Pro delivering for more specialized uses like 3-D visualization in engineering and front-line work in manufacturing, where virtual-reality headsets have proven their business value.

Deloitte, which has an existing Apple practice advising businesses in iPhone and iPad, announced a Vision Pro practice last week that focuses partly on training developers to build apps for the new headset, said Mike Brinker, a digital leader in the professional services giant’s mobile and apps advisory. Deloitte is a sponsor of CIO Journal.

For its own use, Deloitte placed an order for hundreds of Vision Pros, Brinker said. The company will use them for data visualizations, immersive learning and employee training, and to plan the expansion of its Deloitte University leadership campus in Texas.

“Being able to do all the space planning, the visualization to lay out all of that with the Vision Pros is pretty impactful," Brinker said. “It’s such a better way to experience it than the 2-D world that we’re used to seeing on blueprints."

Home-improvement retailer Lowe’s similarly is using its more than two dozen Vision Pros so employees can be fully immersed in 3-D models, or digital twins, of its stores and inventory, said Chief Digital and Information Officer Seemantini Godbole. The experience encourages them to ask detailed questions about inventory and layouts—in plain English when paired with generative AI-based assistants, she said.

Lowe’s said it also developed Style Studio, an app that helps customers design and visualize their kitchens, which has 13,000 downloads. It plans to put Vision Pros in several dozen of its stores later this year for customers to test-drive the app, Godbole said.

Box said early uses for its Vision Pro app, which has thousands of downloads, include media companies working on multiple videos at once and life-science businesses visualizing body parts instead of 3-D printing them.

But inside the company, Box’s Levie said it doesn’t yet have a clear-cut use for the Apple headset.

“We’re very much people who pull out their laptop and do most of their work from that standpoint," he said. “We haven’t figured out exactly what an enterprisewide type model looks like."

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