Wait, how many Vision Pros are selling?

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

Ming-Chi Kuo used to just provide supply chain data and he was remarkably reliable at that. Then he moved into more general punditry, and honestly it feels like things are off the rails enough that I find it hard to take his data seriously without looking into it further.

The most recent example is yesterday’s spicy story about Vision Pro sales being way below Apple’s estimates.

Apple has cut its 2024 Vision Pro shipments to 400–450k units (vs. market consensus of 700–800k units or more).

This of course was perfect fodder for people anxious to call the Vision Pro a flop. Halving their estimate is a huge miss for a company that generally has a good grasp on what the market for new products is, but a simple question to ask is where those 450k and 800k numbers came from. Quoting Ming-Chi Kuo from less than 2 months ago:

U.S. shipments are expected to be 200,000–250,000 units this year, better than Apple’s original estimate of 150,000–200,000 units

Another data point to add to the mix, here’s Kuo reporting what he thought first day pre-orders were for the product:

Based on pre-order inventory and shipping time, I estimated that Apple sold 160,000 to 180,000 Vision Pro units during the first pre-order weekend.

Let’s go further back…way further back to December 2022. Here’s Kuo posting on Twitter about first year sales expectations:

Apple MR headset shipment forecast in 2023 will likely be less than 500k units, which is lower than the market consensus of 800k-1,200k units.

At this point in time Kuo was expecting the headset to release in the second half of 2023, so the timeline has changed due to the Vision Pro’s actual February 2024 release, but he was expecting a bit under 500k units to be sold in the first year, and now he’s suggesting Apple has “cut” Vision Pro unit sales in its first year to…just under 500k.

Look, I don’t know how well the Vision Pro is selling, and I don’t have particular confidence that Ming-Chi Kuo’s numbers are anything more than slightly educated guesses. What I will say is that Kuo’s original 400-450k estimate was based on Apple selling every single one of the units they were able to manufacture. Meanwhile, I just checked and I can get any Vision Pro model I want from any Apple Store within 200 miles of me, so I don’t think Apple is selling them as fast as they can build them. I don’t know if that’s good or bad compared to estimates, but one of the reasons I jumped on buying one a few months ago was that I saw it in stock at my local store and thought it might be my only chance to get one for many months because that was the narrative at the time.

Whether Apple is pleased or disappointed with Vision Pro sales today is relatively academic in my view. Whether product managers on the project at Apple are hitting their targets just isn’t that interesting to me, and based on the wild fluctuations in numbers, it seems like a lot of guessing to me.