Quest vs Apple Vision will be won by trajectory

Quest vs Apple Vision will be won by trajectory
Photo by Nationaal Archief / Unsplash

Today, Mark Zuckerberg recorded a video talking about how Quest 3 is not just better value, but a better product.

What he means is: Meta believes price point, weight, full 3D experiences will be paramount to winning the VR market.

These are factors informed by their historic "metaverse" approach. Where the ways we work, communicate and play will be augmented or replaced by a virtual world.

Part of the reason for this is that their hardware choices to meet their price point meant things like effective passthrough were a dream. Super high quality augmented or mixed reality experiences were highly limited by this – and as we've seen with Magic Leap and HoloLens, many headset companies have died exploring this route.

So with hardware limited by the price point and weight restrictions, Meta has been working its way up the sophistication level from the bottom. What that has meant is that most experiences on the platform still suck.

I've tried working in Workrooms and using my computer monitors. It's pretty unbearable after a relatively short period of time. I tried putting a movie on. It's miserable.

The technology they can ship at that price point fundamentally stops them developing an experience most users will love. And we see that from the disillusionment of most VR users (bearing in mind that's still a fraction of the overall market – most people simply don't want what they are offering.)

A different Vision

By contrast, Apple's design philosophy here has been "experience-first". They seem to have begun with: what characteristics will this need to have to be something most people want to use? And they'll put in whatever tech they need to make it work.

As they abandoned the stylus for the finger with iPhone/iPad/Watch, they abandon controllers for hands.

Only working in VR environments is not acceptable – so that necessitates insanely high resolution screens to reflect the real world and bespoke hardware to handle the latency.

That AR priority means there should be a way to interact with people outside the headset. The fake eyes look deeply iffy – but the design intent feels clear. It's a different priority to a team that tried to say the metaverse would be what really mattered.


Now where this becomes interesting is that the technology factor will go away. Both sides will eventually be able to ship the same components at similar costs (and prices accommodating Apple's positioning + margins.)

As this happens, what we'll be left with is the experience and consequences of these product priorities.

Meta (and Oculus) has spent a decade handcuffed by limitations. I think what will decide the next decade is whether they have let those handcuffs extend to their thinking around future prototypes, software and interfaces. It feels stupid to think they have. But people do stupid things all the time, informed by their culture.

Apple has started with the end goal in sight and released a first draft of their landing zone. Most critics seem to agree that vision is more desirable than what's coming out of Meta.

Now, neither approach may be enough to make these headsets stick (at least until we get the dream of glasses.)

But saying Quest 3 is a better product is, at best, unimaginative and disingenuous.

What's scarier for Meta is whether they may actually believe it.