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  • Writer's pictureYannick Oswald

The Death of the Keyboard.

Updated: Jun 9, 2023

What a week! The one and only Zlatan retires from soccer, news around UFOs reveal that they might be real, the same leader got elected in Turkey for a fifth mandate, critical rumors about the Nordstream attack came out, and yes, there is 'one more thing'... Apple announced the launch of its first AR product, Apple Vision Pro, at WWDR some days ago. Or the ‘first Apple product your look through, not at…'


Talking to entrepreneurs this week, this is clear: Since the launch of the iPhone in 2007, this is the first time there has been genuine excitement around a new tech hardware product. The data from Consumer insights companies also suggests that the launch has been received very positively so far. The tech community seems to be (of course) more skeptical than the general public though. Here are the results of the poll I ran on Twitter this week.




My take: This product launch is much bigger than most anticipate. 

The keyboard is finally dead… and your voice, eyes, and hands are replacing it. 4 years ago, we predicted: ‘The keyboard will be gone in five years.’ And this is exactly what is happening here. Just a year earlier. The product has a real shot at replacing laptops and keyboards for many use cases. Finally, I don’t have to sit awkwardly with my laptop on my lap anymore on flights or in the evening when writing this blog post on my couch...


This is really the first user experience (UX) where you interact with software just by looking at it (can’t wait to try the eye-tracking!), talking to it, or moving your fingers and/or body. And this is anywhere in space. It reminded me of Tom Cruise in the minority report. The new application use cases that will emerge will be abundant. Not surprisingly, apps have been the hottest topic post the announcement. These dreams are what gets people so excited. Only a radically new UX can do this. While AI is huge, it is not (that) new. Crypto was always difficult to understand for most people at first (and second) sight... This is different.



The vision pro killed the metaverse. One of my first reactions when discovering the product was: ‘Finally, a transparent and high-quality AR product’. While I love an immersive UX with no keyboard, I never wanted to live in a virtual metaverse filled with avatars... And, like me, I think most people prefer the real world to a fake one. At least, I do hope so.


While other AR/VR headsets mostly have gaming use cases, Apple did not address those at all. They thought differently: How to blend software as much as possible with our real lives. As a result, the UX focuses on much broader use cases: productivity and other forms of entertainment such as movies or reliving memories in 3D. And Disney gave us a small glimpse into what 3D or spatial entertainment could look like… Apple wants to set itself apart from the other players in the space. And, looking at the adoption of those devices, the picture looks rather bleak. Apple is carving out its own product language: Spatial computing, not AR or VR. A smart, strategic move.



Let’s have a look at some critics I have heard people mentioning around me.


These googles look so odd. I will never wear those...

This was my first reaction as well. Will I walk around outside wearing them? Probably not that often, at first... But, let’s stop lying to ourselves. People found mobile phones weird as well. Today it is the most normal thing to pick up your phone anywhere. Looking at a screen all day might be better sometimes, but often it is not. The UX is just less good for many use cases.

This is only the first version of the product. These googles will get smaller and look less like ski googles as time goes buy.



Is it too expensive? No, not in the future.

Not surprisingly, Wall Street shrugged this week when discovering the price point. Apple’s stock fell slightly after the headset was unveiled as they considered the device unaffordable to most people. And they are right, today.


This argument reminds me of Steve Ballmers statement in 2007 when the iPhone was released: Nobody will ever by an iPhone, this is far too expensive...



Yes, the Vision Pro price point is hefty, but history tells us that it will come down over time. Benedict puts it well.




This headset will always only be a nice-to-have.

Who wants to wear these things all the time? 'Not only is it uncomfortable, but also you get a headache'. As mentioned in this 2020 post ‘Consumer software is eating the world, the traditional hardware products are already becoming nice-to-have's.


For Apple, it is all about its services business (powered by its app store platform) and, secondly, its wearables. Launching another killer product like the Vision Pro will only boost the depth and extent of its app platform. The effortless utilization and transition between devices increase the use cases and reach with every new product launched. If it becomes a massive product hit à la iPhone, even better for them and startups. The way the product was introduced this week, it certainly looks like Apple is betting on both.


It will be interesting to see how the product will be received by consumers. And how the competition will react to this. Until then, instead of trying to downplay these incredible tech innovations, let’s enjoy the good news (we need more of those these days) and think about what kind of new businesses could be built in the future. Because they will be…



Last weekend, I visited the Elliott Erwitt exhibition in Paris with my wife. I didn’t know the artist, even though I was familiar with some of his art pieces. If in town, I highly recommend you go and have a look too. His life story, sense of humor, and fantastic art are an excellent experience… A copy of one of these pics is now hanging in my office...


Life is awesome

Yannick




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