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Is the Apple Vision Pro Headset Worth the Price?

In this podcast, Motley Fool host Mary Long and analyst Jason Moser discuss:

  • The training and educational use cases for spatial computing.
  • How Apple and Meta products stack up against each other.
  • Meta's virtual reality strategy.
  • The strong value proposition for VR training in healthcare.

To catch full episodes of all The Motley Fool's free podcasts, check out our podcast center. To get started investing, check out our quick-start guide to investing in stocks. A full transcript follows the video.

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Jason Moser: There is an opportunity there, but clearly, it's trying to figure out whether it's a bit more of a niche opportunity or a mass market opportunity, but with Apple, this is their first step.

Mary Long: I'm Mary Long, and that's Jason Moser. In addition to analyzing stocks for you on Motley Fool Money, JMo is the lead advisor on our Augmented Reality and Beyond investing service. Not too long ago, we each checked out the new Apple Vision Pro headset to see if it's worth that $3500 price tag. On today's show, JMo and I will walk through that experience and look at the virtual reality applications that are already having an impact. Jason, I wanted to grab you to talk a little bit about virtual reality and augmented reality and the state of that because this seemed to be a really big news story in February when Apple launched the Vision Pro, and things seem to have quieted down a bit. I recently made a field trip to Apple and got to demo the device, and walked out of that fireworks show that they put you through for about 30 minutes thinking this is really cool. [laughs] To be fair, I had not yet tried a VR headset, so I wanted some other perspective because you dabble in this space a bit more. You also recently took a field trip to check out the Vision Pro. What did you think?

Jason Moser: Yeah, I just did. I went to the Apple Store, and it's very easy. For anyone who wants to do it, you just go to the Apple website, you sign in, you make a reservation. They seem to be very open to it. You reserve your time slot, and you go in there, and they give you a demo of what this Vision Pro is all about, and it's very easy to do. I must admit I went in with some preformed opinions based on my experience having used Meta's Oculus/Quest device. I think actually my daughter has an Oculus that she got a couple of years ago for a birthday present, but I'd use those Oculus headsets several times all along the way. I had a little bit of a sense of what I was getting into going into the demo, but I absolutely wanted to get a fair shake. I must say, when I think about the pros of the Vision Pro, this is just really impressive technology. Apple rarely, if ever, does anything half-heartedly, and I think this is another example of a lot of hard work and a lot of imagination and a lot of technological prowess going into, hopefully, what is just their first iteration of this device. The technology itself is really impressive. It's very immersive. There are instances where you really do feel like people are right there in your face and right next to you. I thought it was generally pretty user-friendly in navigating around. I have an iPhone, but I work on a Window, so I'm all over the place when it comes to the operating systems that I use, but I felt like it was pretty user-friendly in navigating around to get what we wanted to get done. Now with that said, there are some cons, and I think the primary con to me, and this is not Apple-specific, this is something that I think pertains to all of these headset devices, it is very cumbersome. It is heavy, you feel it on your face. I absolutely did not want to wear it for too long. When 30 minutes were up for that demo, I really was ready to take it off, and I did notice, when I took it off, that [laughs] my eyes burned a little bit. Those things, I think, will get better in time. I think the other hurdle that they need to clear, and again, this is not Apple-specific, but there is just no obvious killer app. I did not walk out thinking I needed this device at all. It's a neat want, but I just felt like there was no reason for me to buy this device. I have no need for it, and that, to me, is going to be one of the bigger hurdles to clear as well.

Mary Long: I'm not a gamer. I feel like that's the use case that's been touted from a consumer perspective in the past. Sitting there and being in this demo, to me, really opened up the possibilities for the entertainment space, again, not as a gamer. For those listening, what's part of what's so amazing about the tech is that you can truly move your head anywhere, up, down, right, left behind you, below you, and in certain instances, you're still seeing a screen there, or you're seeing a fully immersive natural background, and it can feel really like you're there. There was a moment in my demo, where I forget what the app was, and I was effectively taken inside a recording studio, and Alicia Keys is so close to me.

Jason Moser: Yes. That's the same one. It's like she's right there next to you.

Mary Long: It's amazing. Moments like that, again, it's a really sharp visual, but there's not too much movement. That, to me, was like, this is a really cool possibility for movies, yes, for gaming, but that's already been thrown out there, for photos and videos and just sharing personal memories. There's a lot of cool personal and entertainment use cases there. What apps did you try out when they walked you through? I feel like they have a few that they like to show to everybody, but maybe others get different experiences.

Jason Moser: I'd imagine the demo process is probably fairly standardized so that everyone in the Apple Store can get the same consistent experience. You go through the obvious ones, photos and videos, video streaming, their opportunity to show off 3D capabilities. They even had me go into the Safari browser and scroll and navigate around a little bit in the Safari browser so you could see how you might actually be able to do that, but I think you keyed in on something that to me, and again, it's not just the Vision Pro, it's these devices in general, I think we're at the stage where these devices, for the most part, they're just consumption devices. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I think that when you're looking to find a reason for mass adoption, we need to go beyond. We need to figure out how do we get beyond just that consumption use case. You think about something like the phone, for example, obviously, the iteration of the phone well before, just like the iPhone, the smartphone, the cellphone. I grew up in the era of phones on our walls, where you had to dial with a rotary thing, and now we're sitting here and talking to people in video form as if it's magic. I think, ultimately, what they need to do is figure out how to make them more productivity tools. They are productivity tools in certain cases, whether it be something like training or something like engineering. There are certain use cases where these are phenomenal productivity tools, but we need them to become productivity tools for the masses in order for this to become that new computing paradigm. That, I think, is very unclear, but like you said earlier, this is just such early days. I think this is a great first effort from Apple, and I suspect we're going to see an iterate off of this soon.

Mary Long: There was a moment in my demo where you're able to use a keyboard, so like you're typing with your fingers, and as you type, the letters are appearing on the screen through your goggles glasses. A journalist, Nick Bilton from Vanity Fair, he profiled Tim Cook around the launch of this. He described that as using a pen with your toes. That [laughs] type of action was, was pretty awkward and from a productivity standpoint, I thought I don't need to use an air keyboard to type something on the screen in front of me.

Jason Moser: Yeah.

Mary Long: That I don't really see getting mass adoption, but one of the apps that I got to check out in this experience was I think called Jigs. You basically get to see 3D models of anything from a rocket engine to a human heart, and you can use your hands to reach out and pull this model closer to you, to take apart different pieces of it. I'm not using that in my day-to-day work, working in audio, but it was really cool to get to see and understand that use case because that type of thing, I can see on a productivity standpoint. The reaching out, innately knowing how to grab this virtual rendering, and then pull it apart and examine it, there are really cool implications for that on a commercial level.

Jason Moser: No question. I think that really goes to one of the more compelling use cases for devices like these today. It boils down to things like training and education. I think that's where we see some of the most impact coming from these devices right now. That doesn't mean that that's all that we'll use them for, but it's really neat to see companies like Apple, companies like Meta exploring those capabilities because, if you just game this out, and you think about it to the nth degree here, we're not talking about just professionals. Take it down to the educational level, and I'm not talking about med school. Take it down to like third grade. Take it down to second grade. I'll use the civil war as an example, just because the civil war is such a profound event in humanity. We read about it, we learn about it, but man, if you can take that beyond their imagination and show them the reality of what things were like on the ground there, that's a memorable experience. That really is what education is all about. It's creating memorable experiences, things that we remember that help shape our lives and our worldview. I think there's a lot of exciting possibilities here. It's easy to hammer on the things that are wrong or where they're missing, but if you take it from the glass half-full perspective, and you see the potential and the possibilities, it takes a little bit longer-term thinking. That's what we specialize in here at the Fool. It's exciting, I think.

Mary Long: You have tried Meta's products in this realm, right?

Jason Moser: Yeah. I've tried the Oculus. I remember we had actually an annual meeting for the company in one year, probably it must have been 10 years ago at this point, where we had an Oculus demo there at the meeting and recently as my daughter, a couple of years ago got in Oculus headset as just a birthday present, so I've had the opportunity to fiddle around with Meta's offerings there as well.

Mary Long: From a product and a tech standpoint, how do they stack up against each other?

Jason Moser: I think they're very comparable now. There are little differences in how you navigate and whatnot, but I think the biggest difference I saw, in regard to the Meta products that I've used, are basically full-on virtual reality. You are immersing yourself into a fully digital created world. Whereas, and I thought this is pretty interesting with the Vision Pro, you had a number of different ways you could go about it. I would call it a bit more of a mixed reality device. You had the augmented reality stage. You also had the opportunity to fully immerse yourself into another world by just turning that little crown at the top, and so it did seem to me that, with a Vision Pro, it was a bit more multi-functional in that regard. It incorporates more augmented and virtual reality into ultimately what we would call a mixed reality device.

Mary Long: It should be noted, I guess, for those that haven't experienced either with the Apple Vision Pro, while the screen or whatever you're seeing around you is totally there, you can also make out the people that might be next to you, which you can't really do in the Meta device, right?

Jason Moser: Yeah, exactly. That comes with its pluses and minuses. I thought that was OK. It's nice to know that you are still at least in touch with the world outside, but then by the same token, I guess it depends on what you're doing, it could also be distracting. It could also take a little bit away from the experience. I don't think ultimately it was a bad thing, it's just different. It's a good point to note there, maybe a little bit of a difference there in the two devices in that experience.

Mary Long: From a price standpoint, like the Meta Quest, you can get one for $300. Again we mentioned earlier the Apple Vision Pro clocks in at $3500. Based on that alone, it seems to me like each company is targeting a different kind of consumer and user. Does that different targeting translate into strategy at all? Do you think that Apple has a uniquely different VR, mixed reality, augmented reality, whatever reality strategy than does Meta here, or are they in parallel?

Jason Moser: I don't know that I would put them in parallel right now. I think Meta is very explicitly pursuing that Metaverse opportunity. This chance for humans to actually live in this alternate universe more or less. It seems like with Apple right now, this was really their first product launch in this space, and it took them a little while longer, and that's their MO. They sit back, they see how the market develops, is there an opportunity developing, and if so, how do we pursue that, and then let's go ahead and pursue that. It feels like maybe that the approach they took here is they saw these investments to companies like Meta, even Google. We think about Alphabet with Google Glass, companies making these investments in the space, trying to figure out if there was that opportunity, and there is an opportunity there. Clearly it's trying to figure out whether it's a bit more of a niche opportunity or mass market opportunity. With Apple, this is their first step, and I think the price point is extremely prohibitive. You're talking about a device where most people are going to have to take out a loan to buy this thing. They're not just going to pay $4,000. It is a $4,000 device, if not more, when you add together getting the memory that you need, along with probably you need the service plan because, if this thing breaks, man, you got no recourse. It's a $4,000 device. There are not many people out there that are just going to go shell out $4,000 in cash to buy this thing and take it home without any real clear value proposition. Maybe they're employing that Tesla-style model in really innovating at the high end to then let that trickle down to additional opportunities in order to bring the cost of these devices down. That's how technology typically works anyways. We see that race to the bottom. Apple has always been able to maintain a little bit of pricing because of the functionality, because of the aesthetics, because of the brand, and so I think that probably has something to do with it is they're just thinking, let's develop the high end, see what the opportunity is, and then we can iterate from there to expand that market opportunity.

Mary Long: We've talked a lot about the consumer side of this kind of technology. We've also dabbled in the commercial, the productivity opportunities there as well. We focused primarily this conversation on Apple and Meta, but Microsoft is one company that talks about an aspect of this technology we haven't really touched on. They call it the industrial metaverse, and that's the idea of connecting the physical world with the digital one in this mixed reality way but really using it to drive efficiencies in systems rather than giving us a new way to watch a cool movie or a new way to interact virtually. Can you maybe give us an eye into what Microsoft's vision for this industrial metaverse is and where they are in that process?

Jason Moser: It's not just Microsoft too. That's the neat thing. Microsoft is certainly playing a role in it, and they've worked on developing their own headset ambitions there with the HoloLens. They've hit some roadblocks with the HoloLens. It's, again, trying to get down to the core use cases, but I think industrial AR, to me when we talk about AR, Augmented Reality, and virtual reality, the immediate question then goes to, how does this impact consumers? We're talking about the mass consumer, but there's a point in-between there, and I feel like that's industrial AR. This is something where this technology is helping different markets in different sectors do things a little bit better, a little bit more efficiently, whether it's determining location or pulling data from that location or visualizing that data. Now Augmented Reality is being used in things like construction and engineering already. You talked about safety training, real-time project information, collaboration planning, modifications, and so I think about companies like Procore, companies like Autodesk that are really utilizing things like this. Building information modeling is one where Autodesk is clearly one of the stronger players in that market, but to me, the industrial AR, in the industrial mixed reality use cases, they don't get the headlines, but they really are the crux of the market today.

Mary Long: You mentioned trainings just now and the use of Augmented Reality in trainings in an industrial sense, but another VR company that you follow quite closely and that you and Ricky Mulvey talked about on the show earlier this week is Axon Enterprise. They're a company that develops, manufactures, sells conducted energy weapons, so tasers. They also sell software services to support these devices. What's the immersive reality play there?

Jason Moser: In a word, it's training. We mentioned that earlier, and you can even see this in their shareholder letter. If you google Axon Investor Relations, go to their investor relations website, you can see their shareholder letter for the most recent quarterly report that just came out, and they have a whole section in there on their VR investments. Ultimately, this is training, and training plays a critical role for them in achieving what they call their moonshot goal. They're looking ultimately to cut gun-related deaths between police and the public in half by 2033, and that really is the idea behind Axon. There's not necessarily the need for guns when there are other alternatives like tasers. This is a company that's focused on public safety, and so they developed these taser weapons along with all of the software services that go to support the data that these police forces and whatnot pull in from whatever civil instance they run into. If you can imagine a world where I'm trying to learn how to use one of these taser weapons, it's not very efficient to just fire off these taser weapons one after another, wasting these cartridges. There's a lot of money that's being spent there by doing that, and so they utilize virtual reality as a training tool. They've developed this hardware and this software in-house for their customers. The police forces and whatnot, they can use this hardware and software to actually go into that virtual world and train on how to use these devices and how to deal with certain situations. Let's face it, these are not everyday scenarios. These are situations that folks run into, hopefully, very rarely, but they're certainly not normal, and it's difficult to replicate that in real life, but with virtual reality, you can program that thing to do whatever you wanted to do. You can fire off as many taser weapons in virtual reality as you want. You're not going to be wasting a ton of money in cartridges and whatnot, and so really it boils down to training, and they seem to be very excited about it. I have followed this company for a while, and certainly the conversation in regard to virtual reality and how it applies to the business and in training, has only grown, so it's neat to see.

Mary Long: I think you only have to dip your toe into the bathroom of this world to see the cool implications and ripple effects that it can have across a number of sectors. We've touched on a lot of those. Before we wrap up. Is there any company or space or use case for AR, Augmented Reality Technology, that's particularly interesting to you that we haven't touched on already?

Jason Moser: I think healthcare stands out as just one of the other markets where it's really having an impact. Much like Axon, I think in healthcare, a lot of it boils down to training. One company that we followed for a long time here in our universe is Intuitive Surgical. Intuitive Surgical is using more and more of these tools to train on their machines. They have this new system for Iris, which is, I believe, a broncho-related device, but they have gained FDA approval for this Iris system and augmented reality training on that Iris system. If you look at another company like Globus Medical, it's focused on the musculoskeletal market and disorders. They are utilizing augmented reality and, to an extent, virtual reality. I think in the healthcare space, that value proposition is clearly proving out, and that is more and more becoming the norm, not only for how physicians practice today, but for how physicians are training, how they'll be educated today and going forward, so healthcare is another space that I think is really exciting.

Mary Long: As always, people on the program may have interest in the stocks they talk about, and The Motley Fool may have formal recommendations for or against, so don't buy or sell stocks based solely on what you hear. I'm Mary Long. Thanks for listening. We'll see you tomorrow.

Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Jason Moser has positions in Apple, Autodesk, and Axon Enterprise. Mary Long has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Apple, Autodesk, Axon Enterprise, Globus Medical, Intuitive Surgical, Meta Platforms, Microsoft, and Procore Technologies. The Motley Fool recommends the following options: long January 2026 $395 calls on Microsoft and short January 2026 $405 calls on Microsoft. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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