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Zuckerberg is very afraid of the Vision Pro, period

Published Feb 14th, 2024 6:50AM EST
Apple Vision Pro spatial computer.
Image: Jonathan S. Geller

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When videos like this one exist, and I’m linking to Steve Ballmer mocking the iPhone, why go out of your way as the CEO of an Apple competitor and criticize their latest creation, which happens to be a first-gen device that might disrupt yours?

That’s what Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg did. He “reviewed” the Apple Vision Pro on Instagram and concluded that the Quest 3 “is the better product, period.” 

That’s his opinion, of course. My opinion is that Mark Zuckerberg is very afraid of the Vision Pro, period. Also, they kind of want and need the Vision Pro to succeed. 

The difference between the former Microsoft CEO and Zuckerberg is that Ballmer had to field questions about the original iPhone soon after Steve Jobs shocked the world with the first-gen device.

Steve Ballmer never reviewed the original iPhone similarly. Ballmer compared it at the time with existing Windows Mobile devices and concluded that the $500 (with subsidies) iPhone would be dead on arrival. You know, period. 

Meanwhile, Zuckerberg delivered his comments from the comfort of his own home, using a Quest 3 to record his opinions on the Vision Pro and why the Quest 3 is superior. It’s one thing to have to defend your product when journalists ask you about the competition, like Ballmer did. And you’ll defend your product even if Apple’s was better. 

It’s quite another thing to come out on your own with this Vision Pro “review.” Because, of course you’ll say your product is better. There’s no way Zuckerberg would have said that the Vision Pro was the better product, period, even if that’s the case. 

So why do it when the internet remembers everything? Well, the only reason is fear. The Vision Pro is not perfect, it’s a first-gen device that’s heavy and runs a software experience that needs ironing out. Sure.

But the Vision Pro is the talk of the town. You see Vision Pro users driving Teslas; you see them in clubs, in airports, and on the street. By the way, that’s not the way to use the Vision Pro, the Quest 3, or anything else that looks like a VR headset.

The point is that nobody would even consider doing that with the Quest 3. It’s pretty clear the Vision Pro is winning here. Those who can afford this early spatial computer from Apple will buy and use it. Even if it costs seven times what the Quest 3 costs. 

Unlike Ballmer, Zuckerberg has a more measured reaction to the Vision Pro. At least when it comes to the overall tone. He acknowledges the advantages of the Vision Pro, but he’s quick to dismiss them and find flaws. He actually seems relieved that the Vision Pro isn’t as big of a deal as he hoped.

Like Ballmer, he thinks he can beat Apple. Ballmer thought Windows Mobile had the clear advantage, and Zuckerberg hopes Meta will win the upcoming spatial computer wars. 

What Zuckerberg doesn’t say is that Apple will fix all the issues that reviewers have pointed out. Some of that will happen via software updates. Hardware issues, like the weight or battery life, will see improvements in future generations. And the library of content created for the Vision Pro will grow tremendously. Apple has a clear advantage here. 

Also, Zuckerberg doesn’t say that Meta needs the Vision Pro to succeed, so a segment of the market starts caring about the Quest 3. Forget stunts like Tesla owners “self-driving” their EVs using Meta headsets. Regular mortals aren’t buying enough Quest units despite the better price tags.

We’ll have to wait a few years and see how well Zuckerberg’s reaction to the Vision Pro ages, of course. Meanwhile, since I did mention Ballmer’s legendary response to the iPhone, you can (re)watch it below:

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.