Sunday, June 16, 2024

Apple may be forced to change the Vision Pro’s name

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Apple’s Vision Pro headset has only just been revealed, but it could already be in trouble. Not only is Apple allegedly struggling to make anywhere near as many units as it wants to, but the company might even be forced to change the device’s moniker in an apparent naming oversight.

That’s because a report from Chinese site MyDrivers (translated here) claims that Apple might not be able to use the name Vision Pro in China, as rival tech firm Huawei had already trademarked the title in the country as far back as 2019.

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The website states the trademark was registered with the Chinese National Intellectual Property Administration and applies from November 28, 2021 until November 27, 2031. It covers a large range of devices, including head-mounted virtual reality products.

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It’s hard to believe that Apple would pick a name for its new flagship product that was already registered by a rival, so we’ll have to see how this one plays out. But if Apple is forced to change the product’s name in China, it will be just another headache for a product that seems to be facing more than enough challenges as it is.

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Struggling with the numbers

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Naming rights are not the only reported worry for the Vision Pro. According to South Korean news outlet The Elec, Apple is only likely to be able to ship around 400,000 Vision Pro headsets per year, as Sony — the company making the device’s display panels — simply can’t make any more.

The Elec believes that Samsung can ship a maximum of 100,000 to 200,000 panels per quarter, or 400,000 to 800,000 per year. If we assume that each Vision Pro has two panels, that suggests Apple will be able to ship a maximum of 400,000 units every year. When Apple asked Sony to increase its production capacity, Sony refused, The Elec believes.

The worrying thing is that number is even lower than the already conservative estimates that were circulating before the headset was revealed at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).

In March 2023, for example, the Financial Times claimed Apple was expecting to only sell around a million headsets per year, an already low figure compared to the roughly 225 million iPhones sold in 2022. Yet even the FT’s figure was called into question, with display industry expert Ross Young asserting it was “much too high” because Apple’s micro OLED supplier “can’t make that many in a year.”

If it’s true that Apple will only ship a few hundred thousand Vision Pro headsets per year, that’s bad news for interested customers — who may have to put up with shipping delays and shortages — and for Apple itself. After all, sales numbers this low are never a good look for a brand-new product that is meant to revolutionize the industry. Whatever happens, it’s clear the Vision Pro is facing an uphill battle.

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