I'm going to cover practical and strategic, but also acknowledge that until we’re able to get our hands on the hardware, this article is essentially an analysis of their press releases through the lens of decades of industry experience, and a healthy dose of scepticism.
Price - US$3,500 for the Vision vs US$500 Quest 3. Here’s our first battleline. Apple has a history of launching with their most expensive version and then offering cheaper options in due course, so expect the same pattern here. Quest 3 is Meta’s best value for money device to date, given the specs are better than previous versions and the price is lower.
Battery – the Vision’s battery is separate to the device and goes for 2 hours vs Quest 3’s battery is built in and while Meta hasn't published what its battery life will be, its predecessor ran for up to three hours, so presumably it’ll be in the same ballpark.
Interface – this is where the Vision is playing to Apple’s strengths. Apple has an ecosystem whereas Meta is a collection of apps – and herein lies the big show stopping difference. With Apple it all just connects and works so how will Meta compete? With great difficulty I suspect, and this could be all it takes for Apple to corner the market irrespective of whether it wins any other category.
'Real’ Mixed Reality – the Vision makes a point of shifting between VR and AR and having a cool signifier on the front of the device to showcase this – thanks to an OLED display and a ski google look, while the Quest 3 is still looking like a traditional VR mask. Putting aesthetics aside, the ability to interplay between VR and AR is something both are claiming to offer. How useful and effective the pass through AR component is, will only become apparent once we’re able to try them out in real life in a variety of different lighting scenarios.
Convenience – Vision sells the idea that you can watch 3D movies like Avatar as though you’re at the movies, and is doing a partnership with Disney & Marvel to launch the product. But if the battery only lasts 2 hours, and we all know the superhero flicks have to go for a minimum of 3 hours then there’ll be a battery-imposed intermission, which doesn’t seem very convenient. Meanwhile Quest 3 is focusing on their new Touch Plus controllers with TruTouch haptics ‘for experiences you can feel’ which suggests they’re more interested in gaming than movies.
Audience – who are they wanting to buy their device? There’s a bunch articles saying each is after the consumer market and then an equal amount saying it’s corporate. Given Meta earlier this year announced a partnership with Microsoft and Accenture for building the enterprise version of the metaverse and their price is more palatable for multi-nationals than the Vision, it would seem they have the jump. But then again, considering the interface of the Vision seamlessly integrates Apple's existing ecosystem and allows users to view their desktop OS and iPhone apps in a larger space why would people who are already heavily invested in Apple's existing tech, iPhone/watch/laptop jump ship to Meta’s Quest?
Execution – both are claiming victories here. Vision has the knitted back strap. Quest 3 is lighter and more comfortable than the Quest 2. This category is a ‘I’ll know when I try it’ until then it’s just a battle of the press releases. Either way the notion that people will want to wear it for hours on end is a fantasy. These devices work well for specific use cases, not everyday activity and if, and when, the moment arrives where we’re all wearing Extended / Mixed Reality devices 10 hours a day, will be a sad day indeed.
The Wrap Up
Personally, I’m excited to have Apple finally enter the ring but they have a lot of work to do to catch up. Meta’s been on the ground and in-market, gaining real world experience, and learning from businesses and consumers as to what resonates and why, and that knowledge is hard fought and invaluable.
How long will it take for Apple to catch up, if ever, and will the Vision’s price-tag match its value will play out in due course, but irrespective of the result this competition will drive market growth and significantly benefit Australia’s metaverse industry. Undoubtedly both these products will provide significant benefits in the development of AR & VR training and simulation in sectors like healthcare, marketing, remote learning and education.
Both Apple’s Vision and Meta’s Quest 3 will support Start Beyond’s focus as a leading AR & VR studio in building compelling, cost effective, immersive learning experiences to create knowledge that sticks.
Through understanding our client’s unique needs, astute execution, and leveraging the strengths of each of these devices, we will continue to deliver to our vision of transporting imaginations and moving people to see the world differently.
Written by - Start Beyond CEO Angus Stevens
AR & VR training provides learners with knowledge that sticks. It is cheaper and more memorable than traditional 2D methods.
Contact us for a demonstration of how AR and VR learning simulations can reduce costs, increase knowledge retention, and build high performing teams.