It was 23 years from Macintosh to iPhone. It’s been 17 years since the iPhone.

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read
It was 23 years from Macintosh to iPhone. It’s been 17 years since the iPhone.

Jason Snell for MacWorld: Call Apple Vision Pro a flop at your own risk

Today, we are so tech-savvy as a society that we’ve forgotten what it’s like to be on the ground floor of a barely feasible product category. And yet, that’s just where we are with the Apple Vision Pro and similar products.

I’m not declaring that the Vision Pro has a special destiny because there’s no way to know that. But I do feel comfortable suggesting that those who are declaring it a dead end and a failed product might want to consider how foolish it would have been to say the same thing about a Commodore PET or TRS-80 in 1977.

Like I told the crypto bros a few years ago, you can’t just point to other successful products and say, “people were skeptical of them just like people are skeptical of NFTs, therefore NFTs are going to be huge!” A million new things come out all the time and most of them fail. Predicting that every new product will fail is a winning strategy if you want to be right most of the time, but it’s a pretty miserable way to live, in my opinion.

The odds are you local sports team isn’t going to win the championship, but you root for them anyway. The odds are you won’t get hired on most interviews you go on, but you do them anyway. The odds are the next product you work on won’t make a dent in the universe, but you work like hell to make it great anyway.

So yeah, most things don’t come through in the end, but every once in a while they do and it’s awesome to be there when they hit. It was a thrill to live through the early years of the smartphone, but of course not everything is an iPhone-level success. I’ve been doing this for a long time now, and I’ve seen a lot of The Next Big Things come in hot and fizzle out in no time.

But the iPhone came 23 years after the original Macintosh, and it’s been 17 years from the original iPhone until today. It’s not unreasonable to think that we could be on the verge of a breakthrough computing change that changes the world. Is the Vision Pro that product? I don’t know, and I haven’t exactly been shy about how the current version of the hardware and software hasn’t clicked for me like I’d hoped, but Apple has a pretty remarkable track record here and I’m taking a leap that maybe this will make more sense to me in the next year or two. As a reviewer, I’d never tell someone they should logically buy something based on what it might become in the future, but for me personally, sometimes that’s a risk I like to take. Sometimes it pays off and you got to be on the ground floor of The Actual Next Big Thing.

Like Jason, I’m not saying the Vision Pro is the next big thing, but sometimes I like to take a gamble on the future. Often it doesn’t work out, and I’ll never claim that I can see the future, but it’s fun to take a few bets here and there. Every once in a while you pick right, and those moments are a delight.