Hundreds of Apple fans began lining up outside its Manhattan flagship store before dawn Friday to sample its new Vision Pro virtual reality set — as they and even the tech giant’s own workers said it was likely the only way they’d ever get their hands on one of the pricey gadgets.
Apple CEO Tim Cook was on hand as a crowd amassed outside the Fifth Avenue store in anticipation of the public unveiling of the headset, which has been cheered as revolutionary — and jeered as “digital fentanyl.”
Donovan Van, a recent college grad from Harlem, called the futuristic device’s $3,500 price tag “a big push — it’s ludicrous.”
“I believe it’s a quality product, but I think the price should be lower, 100%. I am not going to be buying this anytime soon,” Van said. “I’m still on iPhone 13.”
Even some store workers said they would not be buying the headset because of its high cost.
One staffer explained he wants to get a car first, while another worker joked that he would have to moonlight as a sex worker to save up enough money for the gizmo.
“If you see me tricking on the corner, don’t look,” the Apple staffer cheekily remarked. “It ain’t coming in one paycheck, honey.”
He declined to say how much money he earns per month.
A senior worker at the Apple store said he can’t afford the headset, either — and he also finds it “a little heavy.”
“With time, over generations, they will improve. … And it might be cheaper and lighter,” he said.
Faruk Gunes was among those curious to see how the headset works but who also had serious reservations about shelling out that kind of dough for it.
“If I feel like this is a good product, maybe I will buy it, but it’s a little bit overpricey,” said Gunes, a 21-year-old student from Chile.
He noted that the buzzy new device is “too heavy” and presumably has a short battery life, saying he hopes future versions of Vision Pro will be better. Analysts believe the cost of the headset will drop to about $1,500 in the future.
Yinja Wen, 27, a designer from Astoria, Queens, sounded similarly skeptical about how well sales will take off – even though he is excited about the future of VR devices.
“I wouldn’t see it going mainstream at least for the next five to 10 years,” he said of the new Apple produt, citing the high price point. “A lot of people still need to try it to see if they want to [wear] a computer on their face.”
Wen said in the future he will get a Vision Pro headset “for sure” – but not necessarily the one that was unveiled Friday.
“I’m definitely getting one. This version? Not sure. But I’m definitely getting one. The price doesn’t bother me,” he said, adding that he does not “invest in first-generation products.”
Apple rolled out its hotly anticipated new device at stores across the US on Friday.
At Apple’s main New York City store, Cook chatted with workers and shook hands and posed for selfies with customers who were among the first in line to snap up Apple’s new headset.
Speaking to CNBC’s Jim Cramer at the event, Cook hailed the Vision Pro as “tomorrow’s technology today” — and sought to justify the eye-watering sticker price.
“We think we priced it at the right level considering the value of it,” Cook said, noting that the headset has 5,000 patents on it.
The company CEO, who has an estimated net worth of $1.9 billion, noted that customers short on $3,500 could sign up for a monthly financing plan.
“People can spread their payments out over time, and so that’s one affordability kind of thing,” he said.
But the headset’s high cost is not the only hurdle. Tipping the scales at 20 ounces — or as much as a box of butter — the Vision Pro is relatively bulky.
Also, people who rely on glasses cannot wear them while using the Vision Pro set and will be required to buy special Zeiss Optical Inserts, which are made by a third party and have a starting price of $99.
But Felix Ernst, 34, was unbothered by some of the concerns surrounding Apple’s expensive new device and walked out of the store a happy customer after scooping one up.
“That’s a big amount of money, but I think it’s a very unique product,” he told The Post. “There is nothing out there that can do what this can do. I’m happy with my decision [to buy it].”
Ernst, who works in the tech industry, gushed about being able to watch home videos of his daughter that he had recoded on his iPhone in 3D on the Vision Pro headset.
“It felt like she was right here in front of me. It’s absolutely amazing,” he said, while sitting in the Apple Store and playing with his new toy. “It’s unbelievable.”
Questions have been raised about whether the VR device is appropriate for children, along with anyone else already deeply immersed in tech.
“Apple can create whatever experience it wants. Whatever the experience, it’s only you having it,” Mark Hurst, CEO of online strategy consulting company Creative Good, told Vanity Fair, referring to the new VR headset.
Calling the wearable tech product an “isolating device,” he described it as “a face-hugging alien strapped to your face” and said Apple’s new “hobby device” doesn’t encourage interaction because the headset places the user in a digital reality and separates them from others in the actual environment.”
Some Apple customers Friday speculated that using the headset could be potentially harmful for youngsters.
“I do not see it as a toy [for kids],” Ernst said. “I came here very early today, and everybody I see here was 30-plus. I don’t know what the future will bring, but if my daughter was 18 now, she’d be too young for this.”
The VR demonstration at the Apple Store was open only to people 13 years and older — but technically there is nothing to stop parents from buying the Vision Pro as a gift for their kids.