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July 24, 2024

Netflix Not Developing App for Apple’s Vision Pro Headset at Launch

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Jan 18, 2024

Apple’s highly anticipated augmented reality/virtual reality headset, Vision Pro, is set to launch later this year. However, streaming giant Netflix has announced it will not have an app ready for the headset at launch. Instead, Netflix is advising Vision Pro users to access its service through the Safari web browser.

Background

The Vision Pro headset has been rumored for years under the code name “Apple Glass” or “Project Ironheart.” It represents Apple’s first major new product category since the Apple Watch launched in 2015.

Key Vision Pro Details:

  • Retail price around $3000
  • High-resolution displays for immersive AR/VR
  • Hand tracking, eye tracking, spatial audio
  • App store for VR applications
  • Tethered to an iPhone or Mac for processing/connectivity

Developers and analysts have been speculating on what apps and services will be available for Vision Pro at launch beyond Apple’s built-in software features. Netflix was assumed to be working on a Vision Pro app given its prominence as the largest subscription streaming service.

Netflix Not Planning Vision Pro App

However, in a statement to The Verge on January 17th, 2024, a Netflix spokesperson said:

“Netflix doesn’t have an app for Vision Pro, but members can access the service through iPhone and Mac devices. They can watch Netflix in Virtual Cinema Mode on Vision Pro through Safari.”

Additionally, Netflix CPO Greg Peters commented during the company’s Q4 2023 earnings interview:

“We look forward to supporting the platform more fully down the road, but don’t have anything to announce today.”

These comments confirm Netflix will not offer a dedicated Vision Pro app when the headset debuts, disappointing many prospective early adopters.

Analysts speculated on Netflix’s possible motivations:

  • Vision Pro’s initial install base too small for Netflix’s liking
  • Still evaluating VR use cases and value proposition
  • Technical/development challenges adapting Netflix’s apps for VR
  • Business model and revenue share disagreements with Apple

“This will frustrate consumers who hoped to immerse themselves in Netflix’s acclaimed original programming,” said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager at IDC. “It’s a missed opportunity for Netflix to be featured prominently on Apple’s breakthrough extended reality device.”

Apple’s Response

Apple has not issued a direct response to Netflix. However, Apple CEO Tim Cook addressed the possibility of missing apps during Vision Pro preorders in an interview this week:

“We believe Vision Pro introduces an entirely new computing paradigm centered around people. The opportunities for entertainment, connection, learning and creativity are endless. As with all new Apple products, we can’t wait for the world’s best developers and content creators to show us what’s possible on this exciting new platform.”*

This indicates Apple remains confident Vision Pro will offer compelling functionality despite the lack of Netflix.

What Users Can Still Watch on Vision Pro

So what video streaming options will be available on Vision Pro at launch for virtual cinema viewing?

Confirmed Vision Pro Apps

  • YouTube
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • Hulu

Unconfirmed but Expected

  • Disney+
  • HBO Max
  • Apple TV+

Users can also access streaming services like Netflix via the Vision Pro’s web browser, but this is likely an inferior experience compared to a dedicated VR app.

What Happens Next

Netflix will undoubtedly keep monitoring Vision Pro adoption and development activity. If strong app ecosystem momentum occurs, Netflix could quickly pivot to launching a Vision Pro app leveraging its existing iPhone/iPad and Apple TV codebases.

Table 1 shows potential Vision Pro unit sales forecasts from various analysts:

Firm 2024 Shipments 2025 Shipments
J.P. Morgan 2 million 6 million
Ming-Chi Kuo 1 – 1.5 million 5 – 8 million
Bloomberg Intelligence 500,000 2 million

“If Vision Pro shipments exceed 3 million units this year, I believe Netflix will accelerate plans for an app to retain its leadership position in the streaming space,” predicts Mike Olson, senior research analyst at Piper Sandler.

In the nearer term, the lack of Netflix could dampen enthusiasm for Vision Pro among mainstream consumers looking for must-have entertainment apps. This could negatively impact Apple’s sales projections depending on how other competing services position themselves on the headset.

“Vision Pro’s success doesn’t hinge exclusively on Netflix, but it certainly would have helped capture consumer curiosity,” said Maribel Lopez, principal analyst at Lopez Research. “Now Apple must demonstrate that Vision Pro unlocks transformative new use cases and societal value that transcend passive video consumption.”

If Apple sells millions of Vision Pro headsets annually as hoped, Netflix will eventually need to become more deeply integrated as mixed reality interfaces and spatial computing cement themselves as crucial new platforms. Netflix’s initial hesitation reflects legacy digital media companies still figuring out product-market fit in unfamiliar technological territory.

“This situation parallels the early days of the iPhone app ecosystem,” notes Apple commentator John Gruber. “Major players like Netflix hung back while newer startups jumped on the opportunity to tailor experiences for a novel paradigm. Today, the iOS app economy is indispensable — and Netflix benefited tremendously once it fully committed to enabling mobile viewing. VisionOS won’t follow an identical trajectory, but shows echoes of fresh platform birth pangs.”

In conclusion, while concerning for impatient technophiles today, Netflix’s non-involvement with Vision Pro at launch doesn’t spell doom. If the headset takes off as Apple expects, Netflix and other streaming services can’t ignore its stake in humanity’s augmented reality future. But near-term success remains contingent on Apple attracting users without flagship entertainment apps through still-unclear value propositions. The mixed reality revolution won’t be won overnight, but a giant leap begins with Vision Pro’s first step.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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