Apple Vision Pro — new report says 20 million users in 5 years

Apple Vision Pro EyeSight
(Image credit: Apple)

The Apple Vision Pro promises to leave the best VR headsets in the dust and forge a new product category of spatial computing. But how big could this new device be, especially given the $3,500 starting price?

The analyst firm Canalys has published a new report with an estimate for Vision Pro shipments, and the it predicts that Apple will achieve an install base of 20 million users within 5 years. That's a tiny fraction compared to the iPhone but it represents a solid 15% of the overall MacBook install base. 

Appel Vision Pro shipment projections by Canalys versus iPod, MacBook, iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch

(Image credit: Canalys)

"With the Vision Pro, Apple will once again show that a late market entry is no barrier to success, and Apple will own yet another new category," says the report.

According to Canalys analysts Jason Low and Nicole Peng, the Vision Pro will start slow with 350,000 shipments in the first year but will surpass 10 million shipments the fourth and fifth years. By comparison, the Apple Watch hit 20 million by year five and the iPad reached 40 million.

In order to reach those numbers, Apple will need to lower the price of the Vision Pro as production ramps up and components get cheaper, and there have been reports that Apple will release a cheaper AR/VR headset that may offer less features within the next couple of years. 

For now, Apple needs to convince early adopters that the Vision Pro's innovations are worth the high price of entry. And it does pack some pretty cutting-edge technology, including dual micro-OLED lenses with greater than 4K resolution each, advanced eye- and hand-tracking and both a powerful M2 chip and new R1 chip for real-time processing.

Apple is also making big bets in several areas with the Vision Pro, including immersive video playback and 3D photo and video capture. You can also hold FaceTime calls using your digital persona avatar, extend your MacBook's display and run multiple apps side by side for enhanced productivity and tap into a new wave of augmented reality apps

But there's some obstacles beyond the high price, including the fact that some are complaining that the Vision Pro is too heavy to wear for extended periods and the relatively short 2 hours of battery life. Then there's the social awkwardness of being that person wearing the headset in front of family and friends.

I had a chance to go hands-on with the Apple Vision Pro, and it was a very impressive demo, but as one analyst told me recently the success of this new platform will be highly dependent on the amount and quality of third-party apps.

The success of this platform fully depends on software developers," said Ben Bajarin of Creative Strategies. "If the software community doesn't embrace this platform then this category doesn't go anywhere for Apple. But this is why getting an extremely good V1 product into their hands is so important."

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Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.

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    Someone was smoking drugs when they made this report. Apple won't even be able to MAKE one million of these next year, and in the remaining four years of this five year timeline, it is doubtful they'll be able to make more than 1.5 million a year. The report seems to also ignore the fact that there are other serious hurdles - not least of which is that no company has made a compelling use-case for this technology. Gaming is about the only thing this tech has been used for, and even there the adoption rate is pretty dismal.