Apple’s foray into mixed reality with the Vision Pro headset has encountered a lukewarm reception from app developers, as reflected in recent App Store data. This analysis explores the factors contributing to this cautious response and the implications for Apple’s wider developer community.
The Vision Pro’s App Store currently boasts just over 150 apps explicitly updated for the new headset, a fraction of the 1.8 million apps available. This limited number suggests a restrained effort from developers to tailor their apps for Apple’s latest platform despite its theoretical compatibility with iOS and iPad apps.
Several factors contribute to this tepid response. Firstly, developers face challenges, such as a scarcity of Vision Pro headsets for testing and uncertainties about the market potential due to the device’s hefty starting price of $3,499. Additionally, translating small, touchscreen-optimized apps to a different computing environment poses a hurdle.
Beyond these technical challenges, Apple’s strained relationship with its developer community may be influencing the response. The aftermath of the Epic Games antitrust lawsuit has left a negative sentiment, with Apple modifying App Store rules but imposing caveats on developers’ ability to point to alternative means of purchasing subscriptions. The limited reduction in commissions, from 30% to 27%, further discourages app makers.
This developer-hostile stance could have repercussions for Apple’s broader developer community, which has historically embraced new platforms despite diminishing returns. The iMessage App Store and watchOS App Store faced challenges, and high-profile departures from Meta, Slack, Uber, and Twitter highlight a pattern.
Major rivals like YouTube, Netflix, Spotify, and Meta have chosen not to build for the Vision Pro, given Apple’s competition in video and music streaming services. The Appfigures list indicates that certain big brands and popular apps have opted out, including Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, TikTok, Spotify, YouTube, Google Drive, Gmail, and more.
However, Vision Pro users still have access to a range of content from Apple’s apps and third-party offerings like Disney+, ESPN, Zoom, and more. Some notable brands, including Box, Carrot Weather, Webex, and Zoom, have developed specifically for Vision Pro.
Apple assures developers that existing iPhone and iPad apps will be automatically available to Vision Pro users unless developers modify app availability in App Store Connect. This strategy may indicate a wait-and-see approach among app developers until the Vision Pro user base justifies additional attention.