Vision Pro may have an app problem, with developers possibly unwilling to commit to Apple's 'revolutionary' new platform

An eye looking at app icons on the Apple Vision Pro
(Image credit: Apple)

When the Apple Vision Pro was first announced, we were told that it would run at least one million apps right out of the box. However, it’s beginning to look like that might not be the case. Now Apple may have effectively alienated and irritated app developers, making them less likely to produce bespoke apps for the headset. Instead, we’re expecting to see ports of existing iPad apps hastily slapped onto the Vision Pro.

The Vision Pro has already been shunned by streaming giants like Netflix, YouTube, and Spotify due to a lack of confidence in the new platform, as well as Spotify’s public distaste for Apple’s “outrageous” 27% commission. According to the BBC, the music streaming service has levied heavy accusations of Apple “stopping at nothing” to protect profits. With all this tension building just before the official launch of the Vision Pro, it’s easy to see why there might be a lack of confidence in the headset.

Other app developers likely share this hesitancy. Many might agree with Spotify’s frustration with Apple’s restrictive App Store policies and fees, especially since the Vision Pro’s success hinges on whether or not it has apps that make it worth buying. Why would you spend $3,500 for a device that doesn’t have the particular app you want?

Developers Wrath 

To add to the concerns surrounding the Vision Pro, devs who did not receive a ‘developer kit’ from Apple are now left having to shell out the full price for the headset just to test their apps. Why wouldn’t you just drop a quick port of the iPad app you’ve already developed onto the visionOS App Store and call it a day? 

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman notes that Apple’s initial inventory for the launch sits at about 80,000 units, which sold out within hours when pre-orders went live. If you’re a developer who hasn’t received a developer kit, you’ve got a very high cost of entry for not that much of a user base.

It may seem like 80,000 initial units is a lot, but if you’re going to put money and time into your app to maybe reach 80,000 people who might download it, you’re better off not bothering. To put that number into perspective, analysts estimate that Apple has already sold 20 million iPhone 15 models since its launch in September 2023. Gurman also notes that Apple is only expecting to see 300,000 to 400,000 Vision Pro units sold across the entirety of 2024.

It’s such a shame that Apple seems to be treating developers and streaming services like an afterthought when it comes to the Apple Vision Pro. The build-up to the official launch day has been plagued by more and more unfortunate and honestly confusing news - and just like Netflix, YouTube, and Spotify, many are losing confidence in the headset. It’ll be disappointing if Apple’s promised ‘million apps’ turn out to be mostly quick iPad ports.

It may be the case that the Vision Pro will have to stumble before it can walk, and should it live up to the hype and become a huge seller then we might see developers turn around and commit to developing dedicated visionOS apps. But until sales figures crystallize, it looks like early adopters might have to settle for less.

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Muskaan Saxena
Computing Staff Writer

Muskaan is TechRadar’s UK-based Computing writer. She has always been a passionate writer and has had her creative work published in several literary journals and magazines. Her debut into the writing world was a poem published in The Times of Zambia, on the subject of sunflowers and the insignificance of human existence in comparison.

Growing up in Zambia, Muskaan was fascinated with technology, especially computers, and she's joined TechRadar to write about the latest GPUs, laptops and recently anything AI related. If you've got questions, moral concerns or just an interest in anything ChatGPT or general AI, you're in the right place.

Muskaan also somehow managed to install a game on her work MacBook's Touch Bar, without the IT department finding out (yet).