Netflix is on everything. It’s on your phone, computer, and game console, going all the way back to the Nintendo Wii. Hell, you can get your Netflix fix on a Peloton if you really need to work off the vicarious carbo loads of Paul Hollywood while watching the latest season of The Great British Bake Off. One place where Netflix won’t be is Apple’s upcoming Vision Pro VR headset. Why isn’t Netflix planning an app for what is Apple’s big $3,500 gamble on the future of augmented reality? According to co-CEO Greg Peters, it’s because the company doesn’t know if anybody’s actually going to use it.
More specifically, he called the device “subscale,” adding that he didn’t know if it would be “relevant to most of our members.” That was in an interview with business analyst Ben Thompson, where Peters implied his company is being far more selective, at least when it comes to Apple’s $3,500 “spatial computer.”
“We have to be careful about making sure that we’re not investing in places that are not really yielding a return, and I would say we’ll see where things go with Vision Pro,” the Netflix co-CEO said. The interview dropped barely a day after Peters got done extolling how the company gained more than 13 million new subscribers in the last three months of 2023 while also mentioning potentially increasing subscription prices.
Other common apps like Spotify and YouTube also don’t plan to have a Vision Pro-specific app at launch, instead directing people to log on through their Safari browser. Peters added that they still want to work with Apple, and “sometimes we find a great space of overlap. We can move very, very quickly. Sometimes it takes a little bit longer.” It’s a diplomatic way of saying that Netflix just doesn’t know if making a Netflix app that’s easily navigable with the Vision Pro’s hand gesture-only controls is worth it if, in two month’s time, nobody is using the damn thing.
According to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the Vision Pro has effectively sold out during preorders, with between 160 and 180 million sold so far. Folks who ordered early might not get their headset for weeks after first shipments are set to begin on Feb. 2. It’s a strong start for such an expensive device, but that belies just what kinds of sales numbers it would take before Apple calls its first VR headset a success. Kuo estimated the Cupertino company expects to receive just 500,000 units this year. Netflix might not see those numbers as worth developing an entire app all the time.
Compared to other headsets like the Quest 3, the Vision Pro is geared toward people who want to sit down and watch content or work with their hands in their laps. That’s become clear for those who recently had limited hands-on time with the headset. That’s why Apple has promoted so many spatial “experiences” for its headset and hasn’t promoted many Vision-specific games. With Netflix and others deciding to sit out on the Vision Pro’s release window, we’ll have to wait and see if there are enough things to watch to excuse the headset’s rather massive price tag.