Digital artist Mike “Beeple” Winkelmann, famous for his characteristic lack of subtlety in his digital work, minced no words in a scathing review of Apple’s new Vision Pro headset, disparaging the device as “a shitty product with zero market fit.”
“[It] solves no actual real world problems and does not move the ball forward on spatial computing in a meaningful way,” the artist wrote on Twitter late Wednesday.
Beeple, a noted technology enthusiast, seized headlines around the world in 2021 after one of his NFT artworks sold for $69.3 million at Christie’s. The work, “Everydays: The First 5000 Days,” remains the most expensive NFT ever purchased by a single buyer; its sale had a substantial impact on increasing global awareness of NFTs, then a novel technology class.
Alongside his prominent art career, Beeple says he has long been an avid collector of VR headsets and a proponent of augmented reality (AR), which he believes will constitute the next era of computing and dominate human existence within the next two decades.
ok first off I want to start this Vision Pro review with some background.
I have owned just about every major VR headset since the DK1. I also worked for a few years doing concepts for Magic Leap, and am EXTREMELY bullish on AR as the next era of computing. I see this as… pic.twitter.com/Lt3GXsCleG
— beeple (@beeple) February 7, 2024
But even given that degree of enthusiasm—and a stated love for Apple products—Beeple is adamant that neither the new Vision Pro, nor any other future iteration of the headset, will ever contribute materially to AR’s rise.
“I don’t think there will even be a meaningful version two of THIS product,” Beeple said. “This form factor needs a full reboot to become something anyone will wear or regularly use.”
Why so much hate? To Beeple, it all comes down to functionality. He says the Vision Pro’s bulky shape and physically taxing weight—which have both been noted by most critics—will forever sideline the device as a novelty, and prevent it from meaningfully integrating into daily life.
“At the end of the day for AR to succeed, it has to be BETTER than what we have now, not just a gimmick,” the artist emphasized. “The V1[s] of iPod, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch succeeded because they were actually BETTER than existing products, not ‘gadgets.’”
The road to humanity’s inevitable AR-infused future runs through simple, easily usable glasses-like devices that can eventually scale up and become more complex, Beeple believes.
“The path forward is through smaller glasses getting bigger, not bigger glasses getting smaller,” he said.
To that end, Beeple found himself lauding Meta’s Smart Glasses, built in collaboration with Ray Bans, as one example of a viable path forward.
The compliment was apparently difficult to dole out for Beeple, who regularly skewers Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg in his art pieces.
“I’m shocked to be saying this,” Beeple quipped.
Edited by Andrew Hayward