Why Mark Zuckerberg Isn't Sold On Apple's Vision Pro Headset

Mark Zuckerberg on stage for the F8 2019 keynote.
Apple certainly a made an impression with its much-anticipated Vision Pro headset reveal at its WWDC 2023 event this week. What exactly that impression is depends on who you ask. It's only fitting that a mixed reality headset would elicit mixed reactions, and the one from Meta co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg can be summed up in a single word: underwhelmed.

That's largely predictable, given that Meta is heavily invested in virtual reality and mixed reality experiences of its own, both on the hardware and software side of the equation. It was just last week that Meta unveiled its next-generation Quest 3 headset with a slimmer form factor than the Quest 2, along with faster hardware and a $499 price tag.

The Vision Pro, meanwhile, is far more expensive at $3,499 (MSRP). It's also notable that rather than discontinue the Quest 2, Meta opted to lower the price to $299, making it one of the best values in VR (if not THE best value).

It's not just the price that has Zuckerberg feeling underwhelmed by Apple's introductory mixed reality headset. Zuckerberg shared some thoughts during a recent company-wide meeting with Meta employees, and the folks The Verge, who were in attendance, transcribed what he had to say.

"Our vision for the metaverse and presence is fundamentally social. It’s about people interacting in new ways and feeling closer in new ways. Our device is also about being active and doing things. By contrast, every demo that they showed was a person sitting on a couch by themself. I mean, that could be the vision of the future of computing, but like, it’s not the one that I want," Zuckerberg stated in no uncertain terms.

As far as Zuckerberg is concerned, there is a "real philosophical difference" in how Meta and Apple are approaching virtual experiences. To that end, it's interesting (and perhaps telling) that Apple avoided certain buzzwords and phrases during its Vision Pro unveil, and namely the metaverse (which drove Facebook's Meta rebrand).

He also threw shade on the Vision Pro's price and power requirements (which plays into a short 2-hour battery life), which have been the two biggest criticisms to arise from the unveiling.

Woman wearing Apple's Vision Pro headset.

"From what I’ve seen initially, I’d say the good news is that there’s no kind of magical solutions that they have to any of the constraints on laws of physics that our teams haven’t already explored and thought of. They went with a higher resolution display, and between that and all the technology they put in there to power it, it costs seven times more and now requires so much energy that now you need a battery and a wire attached to it to use it," Zuckerberg said.

He did at least concede that he's curious to "see what happens and how people use" the Vision Pro when it ships, and he plans to put it through its paces himself. But it's clear that he doesn't see the Vision Pro (and by extension, Apple) as a threat to what Meta is doing with the Quest and in terms of the metaverse.

Time will tell if his criticisms of the Vision Pro are founded or whether he's underestimating Apple's entrance into mixed reality.

Thumbnail and Top Image Source: Anthony Quintano (via Flickr)