For years, we’ve known that women ultimately hold a massive controlling interest in most buying decisions. Whether it’s buying cars or homes, when it comes to big-ticket items, women are often winning the debate. And when Apple showed the demos of the Vision Pro, it made sure to show a woman as the primary user.
I’m not here to point fingers or inspire torches and pitchforks, but from a user experience quality perspective, VR is specifically bad for women in ways that aren’t often discussed. The reasons for this are primarily related to hair, makeup, pockets, and social expectations.
Not to say I believe VR will ultimately fail, because if you’d asked me 10 years ago, I said “oh, yes, AR and VR are both, for most people, a gimmick.” But the truth is that whether spatial fails or succeeds, as a concept, depends heavily on a weird sort of interplay between market conditions, environmental factors, our ideas about travel, and whether your definition of success can narrow to the idea that only the most affluent, media-obsessed, or industrial mechanical engineers would have access to it.
I’ve remarked more recently that VR could only truly succeed when / if conditions in the real world become so unbearable that some would demand access to an alternate, digital universe.
Truly immersive VR will likely remain prohibitively expensive, and the reasons for this are related to all the lenses (for both cameras and displays), processing power, cooling requirements, and battery power. People will generally want high quality lenses and bright displays with high refresh rates and fantastic contrast.
Powering those bright displays requires extraordinary battery power and processing power, ideally placed close to the wearer. And few want to strap a hot, heavy headset to their head for long spans of time, especially if it interferes with their bangs.
Yet VR remains fundamentally less accessible to women for silly social reasons, because external batteries don’t work with all outfits and face makeup can transfer easily to a headset if it’s not removed before use. We already know this headset doesn’t leave enough room for eyeglasses.
Is it weird to wear these headsets in public? Can they be worn outdoors? How long can I wear before it makes lines on my face? Can I wear someone else’s headset? Are they returnable? How much does it cost to fix the broken glass? The questions continue.
It’s a good thing Meta pre-announced its Quest 3 headset before Apple, no? Seriously though, for $499 on the Quest 3 and pushing Quest 2 back to $299 (base price), it feels like a clever move. I don’t know who wins on the timing, but for the majority of regular people, the Vision Pro at $3,499 is slightly out of reach. And assuming the Vision Pro doesn’t go full AirPower, some women will be upset with their partners for ordering one of these without asking.
Are the conditions correct for Vision Pro to succeed in a corporate environment? If we factor the RTO (Return To Office) push combined with tech layoffs, mounting uninsurability on both East and West coast, and lower corporate travel rates, will your company want to order these? And are the corrective lenses covered by your insurance? It’s a good thing we have time before that uncertain release date to think it over.