Magic Leap 1, a US$2,300 headset (around NZ$3,850) arrived in 2018 promising the “next era of computing” with augmented reality opening up the new frontier of spatial computing. The same kind of thing Apple is now promising with Vision Pro.
Bad news for the 6,000 or so people who rushed out and bought one, because Magic Leap has announced that its first generation device and apps “will cease to function” on 31 December, 2024.
That means someone who bought one on day one will have paid around NZ$1.64 per day by the time it hangs up its figurative boots.
Of course, there’s still the US$3,300 (~NZ$5,500) Magic Leap 2 if you fancy, but you’d be forgiven for feeling somewhat wary given the imminent retirement of the first generation.
To be entirely fair to Magic Leap, six years isn’t bad for hardware — and doubly so for a headset that originally aimed to sell “at least” one million units in its first year and then… didn’t.
Indeed, buyers of the original Meta Quest have a bit more to grumble about after support began to slowly evaporate as soon as the Quest 2 emerged just over a year later. The difference is that the Quest 1 continued to work — it’s just that precious little more was going to be released going forward.
So should potential early adopters be worried about the Apple Vision Pro going the same way? Yes in the sense that it’s also a very expensive niche product, but no in the sense that Apple is a very different company to Magic Leap.
Not only does it have the honour of being the world’s first US$3 trillion company, but it also has the unique ability to make products that look expensive and weird appear both cool and mainstream. Just look at AirPods — widely ridiculed at launch, and now ubiquitous.
All the same, you’d have to be a very enthusiastic early adopter to pop down NZ$5,773 on Vision Pro when it launches. If it ever makes it as far as New Zealand, that is.