John Stokvis

June 8, 2023

iPhone vs. Vision Pro pricing

One way of thinking about the "$3500 for this thing is way too much no matter what it does" is comparing it to the cost of the original iPhone.
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This is not to say the Vision Pro will have the same world changing effect as the iPhone, but the price thing becomes less of an issue when you do the math.

In 2007 when the iPhone was launched, there were 2 models: 4GB & 8GB (I know!) for $499 and $599  respectively. These were not the true cost of the phones because they were subsidized by the cellular service provider.

The original iPhone was only available on AT&T (formerly Cingular) and required you to sign a two year contract.

The most basic plan was the Nation 450 plan which cost $39.99/month, plus other charges for data and text messages (I KNOW!).

You get could unlimited data and unlimited texting for an additional $20/month each.

Cellular data and text messaging was a very different proposition in 2007 (especially considering the original iPhone didn't have an App Store (I KNOW!!!), so let's be charitable and say you went with the cheapest option and most basic cell plan:

$499 + ($40*24 months) = $1,459. Which in 2023 would be the equivalent of $1,835.32.

Pretty expensive, and no doubt spacing out those monthly cell service payments helped it feel much more affordable.

But what if you went with the more expensive phone and unlimited plan?

$599 + ($80 * 24 months) = $2,519. Which in 2023 would be the equivalent of $3,169.16.

A difference of about $330 (in 2023 dollars).

Again, this probably says less about the potential impact of the Vision Pro and more about anchoring effects and how small payments over time seem a lot less painful than one large payment.

But my sense is that while it is kind of shocking to see a device with an uncertain use case cost that much. If it truly solves some problems that much better than any other alternative (as the iPhone did) its price will be much less of an issue than many people think.