Vision Prorated

Why Some of Apple’s Biggest Fans Are Returning Their Vision Pros
The Apple Vision Pro has now been available for two weeks — and some of Apple’s most dedicated customers are returning the device to get back their $3,500. Also: Apple’s longest-serving product designer retires, and the company is making headway on its generative AI push.

A few days ago, I outlined why I found it probable that the Vision Pro had a higher return rate than most other Apple products. Sure enough, here's Mark Gurman:

With the Vision Pro, even some of the most loyal Apple customers have had second thoughts. By this past Friday — when the two-week return period expired for the very first Vision Pro purchases — a surprising number had turned in their headsets.

Returns are normal, and happen for all sorts of reasons. But the Vision Pro is unique. If you’ve already bought one, chances are you’re a diehard Apple fan or an early adopter of new technology. That group, one would assume, is far less likely than the normal iPhone or iPad buyer to send something back.

Apple isn’t commenting on the Vision Pro’s return rate, but data from sources at retail stores suggests that it’s likely somewhere between average and above average compared with other products — depending on the location. Some smaller stores are seeing one or two returns per day, but larger locations have seen as many as over eight take-backs in a single day.

As Gurman goes on to note, these aren't huge numbers, but still beyond Apple's norms. And while I wondered if we wouldn't seem some sort of strategic leak from Apple if the return numbers were actually better than expected, it seems safe to trust Gurman's reporting since he's long had great sources many of whom are clearly directly at Apple Stores themselves (rather than corporate HQ). That said, you'll note the "likely somewhere" couching here – this is better than purely anecdotal information, but it's still clearly based on a small sample size.

And so again, if Apple feels like they have some sort of way to put out there that the return rate is actually in line with other products, you can expect them to do that this coming week. If there's silence, you can likely trust the above numbers as representative of the actual situation.

And part of this problem – again, assuming there is a problem – may be in part Apple's own doing:

Based on what I’ve seen so far, the demos have been effective — maybe too effective. They sell consumers on an experience that doesn’t quite exist yet. Some stores are seeing conversion rates after demos as high as 10% to 15%. That’s an impressive number for a product with the Vision Pro’s price tag.

I got a demo myself at an Apple Store and I can confirm that they – shocker, I know – accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative (as all companies do, but this Apple are pros at it). The product, without question, gives good demo. Several of the features are incredible. But day-to-day usage is more of a mixed bag, which everyone either knows or has experienced at this point. Gurman has some good anecdotes from folks returning the device and their rationales. Anyone who has used the device, and is intellectually honest, will understand each point made.

It's a great piece of technology. It's not yet a great product.

One anecdote from Gurman's newsletter stood out to me:

Narinder Walia, an economic consultant in Los Angeles, said he was blown away by the video quality. “First off, I loved it. It was bananas.” He said he watched two movies on the device and doesn’t believe there’s another video experience that can compare. But he didn’t use it for much else. “If the price had been $1,500 to $2,000, I would have kept it just to watch movies, but at essentially four grand, I’ll wait for version two.”

I hinted the other day that this is one of the key elements I'm thinking about a lot as well, one week into using the device. But yes, this comes down to price. And while version two will probably have to be cheaper (though it's worth noting that Apple just as often makes new products more expensive – I don't think they can possibly do that here), we're still probably 18 months away from a new Vision Pro, as Gurman notes. So perhaps the thing will do strong refurbished business...