Oculus’ former boss: Vision Pro is an over-engineered devkit

Former Oculus head of Metas, Hugo Barra, believes that the Apple Vision Pro could be an over-engineered development kit. The comment is not a scathing critique, but rather a cautionary prediction based on Barras’ own experience with the industry.

Hugo Barra joined Meta in 2017 as Vice President of Virtual Reality and Head of Oculus. A year later, he would oversee the launch of the Oculus Go, which he considers the biggest product failure he has ever been associated with.

Barra shares my opinion on the apple Vision Pro. That the XR industry needed Apple to enter the market. The launch of the Vision Pro has renewed interest in virtual reality. People who never thought about the concept are now talking about it. Not all of these conversations are positive, but hey, any attention is good attention. And now that Meta has opened up Quest OS to third parties, they were finally looking at the possibility of an Android vs. iOS type war, but on XR. Barra believes that this will lead to potential customers and that it is now up to the industry to prove that XR is worth it.

Vision Pro, an over-engineered development kit

Barra compares the Vision Pro on the Oculus Rift DK1, which was the first Oculus headset ever released. As the DK in the name suggests, it was a devkit. The first Rift was designed to generate developer interest before Oculus was even thinking about releasing a commercial product.

Barra points out how the apple Vision Pro it has more sensors than necessary to offer the same experience. You can see why Apple did it, but the comparison to the Oculus Rift DK1 is starting to make a little more sense.

Hugo Barra, Hugos Blog, March 2024

According to Barra, the headset sacrificed user comfort to ship as many features as possible. He also thinks that the Vision Pro It couldn’t look or feel like an Apple product if it weighed less.

Another reason the Vision Pro What doesn’t appeal to most average consumers is the selection of apps, Barra says. As he notes: Apple continues to focus on AR experiences that enhance the Apple ecosystem. However, most VR users today use their headsets to play games. And there is a distinct lack of fully immersive VR games in Apples App Store.

It makes the same mistakes as Oculus Go

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Apple is focusing on marketing the wrong things according to Barra.

One of the basic points that Barra makes is that the Vision Pro it will face the same obstacles as Oculus Go. According to him, Apple is marketing all the wrong things to try to sell its headphones.

Apples current marketing for the Vision Pro it’s mainly about productivity and media consumption. This goes against what most of the XR industry is really concerned about: gaming. Also, Barra says the novelty of consuming media in virtual reality is wearing off pretty quickly.

Hugo Barra, Hugos Blog, March 2024

Barra presents three crucial reasons why the Oculus Go lost its novelty and the Vision Pro probably will too.

  • It is much more physically uncomfortable, especially during extended periods of use.
  • There are a lot more steps and therefore a lot more friction to start seeing something in VR.
  • It is socially isolating. Many people prefer consuming media as a social activity, not alone inside a headset.

Potential voice bar in one aspect: live sports. He believes that if Apple is able to set up the infrastructure there Vision Pro it could be marketed as something to watch sports.

High-quality screens, in Barras’ opinion, will provide an even better experience for sports fans than a 4K TV. However, Apple will definitely need to introduce an option to co-watch with friends and family to really sell the headset to the majority of sports fans.

There is no doubt that the apple Vision Pro is one of the best AR headsets ever made. But Barra has succinctly assembled the reasons why Apple may have had to slow production and delay a successor to the Vision Pro.

The company is also apparently confused about how to make the Vision Pro cheaper. So it may be a while before Apple figures out how to approach the XR market.

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