Four Things Spatial Needs to Become Legitimate

Overheard at ON_Discourse

Free advice

The potential of spatial video is meaningless without scale

From the editor: Many of our members are excited by the Vision Pro. They are not deterred by the flawed form factor at all, and are instead focusing on the use-cases. One of our members recently laid out a roadmap for growth that has nothing to do with hardware fixes. This is a Chatham House recreation of a member’s perspective.

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The Vision pro is ugly and expensive and buggy and it is going to make the internet way more interesting. The biggest challenge that this product faces is not the shitty keyboard experience or the weight on your face, nor is it the weird battery pack; it is the lack of scale. The Vision Pro needs scale to meet its destiny. Here are four steps that can catapult this product into the mainstream.


Subsidize Cost / Reinforce Use-Case

Find a partner that can subsidize the ridiculous retail price. Apple already gets credit for pioneering this strategy to make the iPhone more accessible to customers. The Vision Pro can partner with entertainment providers (Netflix?) or remote work platforms (Zoom?) to make it easier to access this device. The right partner not only reduces the price but it also reinforces the use-cases for this device. Netflix as a partner could pair this device with a new premium spatial video offering that includes exclusive access to this new content. Additionally, if Zoom were a partner, you can imagine remote work getting a significant boost.


Elevate Remote Work into a Premium Experience

Speaking of remote work: the Meta Quest made a half-hearted attempt to capture remote work demand but failed. It is inconceivable that professional employees would want to work in a cartoonishly designed metaverse. 

Meta’s failure leaves an untapped white-space in the world of remote work. Zoom interfaces and Slack channels have not noticeably improved since the pandemic. As a result we are seeing more companies try to force employees back into the office. Despite all of this, remote work is not going away. The Vision Pro has the opportunity to enable premium collaborative experiences by converting a pen on a desk into a virtual object that can legibly draw on a digital whiteboard. Eventually the economics of this experience are going to drive mass adoption. As AI continues to rapidly diminish headcounts and management structure, employers will start to consider how much money an office, a desk, a chair costs compared to this device.


Leverage Mass Cultural Phenomena

The Vision Pro is driving a new kind of AV format that is undeniably riveting. Spatial video is not just a screen on your face; it is an emotional experience. The original Vision Pro includes a spatial video of Alicia Keys in the studio and it is an absolutely mesmerizing experience. The viewer is no longer a viewer, but a participant in an intimate setting with the musician. You are next to her at the piano, feeling her presence as you are hearing her perform. Alicia Keys is a magnificent star, but imagine this experience at a higher scale. If Alicia Keys has the star power of the sun, Taylor Swift is a galaxy. Her Eras Tour film already broke records in conventional theaters. What will her fans do if they can experience her presence with a fully immersive and personal movie theater experience? What if this experience is offered to die-hard football fans or NBA fans? How much would they pay for premium access to courtside seats from their own couch?


Tap into the Allure of Adult Content

This point should not be taken as an endorsement of porn, just an acknowledgement of its power to persuade the population to upgrade their personal tech. The emotional, sensory experience of spatial video is going to be irresistible to many consumers with expendable income. The moments in between intimate viewing are going to drive these users to get more value out of their device than their late-night ribaldry.

For the Vision Pro, scale is not necessarily focused on revenue alone; it’s about culture. Scale converts our collective creativity into new ways to use technology to shape culture. The iPhone is an example of this: there are over 2 million apps in the app store, yet the average iPhone owner frequently uses only 9 apps. You need scale to test out and identify what those final 9 apps could be. The iPhone, after all, is the standard bearer for the modern mobile experience. The Vision Pro has the potential to define the same thing for XR.

This product is going to change the way people consume media which will influence the way media is created. We should all be excited about this future. I have seen what the first Vision Pro can do – bugs and all – and I am still so fucking excited.