Apple describes the Vision Pro as a “spatial computing” device, but right now it’s arguably as much a pair of cinema goggles that can play 3D movies. That billing has been undermined by the absence of a few apps from streaming’s big players – and Netflix has just explained why it’s steering clear of the headset, for now.
In an interview with Stratechery (via The Verge), Netflix’s co-CEO Greg Peters revealed why Netflix hasn’t made a native app (or even made its iPad app available) for the Vision Pro. In a completely fair yet somehow slightly withering observation, he states that the Vision Pro “is so subscale that it’s not particularly relevant to most of our members”.
Peters adds that Netflix has to make sure “that we’re not investing in places that are not really yielding a return”, but that “we’re always in discussions with Apple to try and figure that out”. In other words, Netflix isn’t ruling out making an app for the Vision Pro in the future, but only when Apple’s headset becomes a lot more mainstream.
That could be some way off. Early estimates suggest the Vision Pro’s first weekend sales were around 180,000 units, with demand likely to taper off significantly. When you consider that Netflix now has 260 million subscribers worldwide – helpfully bolstered by the success of its ad-supported tier – you can see why it might be taking a watch-and-wait approach.
Yet Netflix’s conservative approach to the Vision Pro also reflects some historically frosty relations with Apple. Netflix hasn’t let you sign up to its app through Apple TV for many years to avoid Apple taking a cut of the revenue. And Netflix also still hasn’t fully integrated with the TV app on Apple’s streaming box, which lets you see content from all of your streaming services in a single carousel.
Whether it’ll be a similar story for Netflix on the Apple Vision Pro remains to be seen, but for now, the mixed-reality headset will be missing the world’s biggest TV streaming app, alongside Spotify and YouTube.
A sensible move or a snub?
Right now, the Vision Pro is arguably a very expensive developer kit that’s also available to buy in limited quantities – so Netflix’s stance is completely understandable.
Greg Peters does add that Netflix and Apple are in regular contact, stating that “we’re always in discussions with Apple” and that “we’ll see where things go with Vision Pro”.
That’s far from a closed door – and yet Netflix hasn’t even allowed its iPad app to run on Apple’s headset. You can watch Netflix on a web browser on the Vision Pro, but that’s hardly a premium experience.
Daring Fireball‘s Jon Gruber even recently suggested that a Netflix iPad app for Vision Pro did exist, but that the streaming giant had a change of heart – and that the decision was made out of “pure corporate spite”, rather than anything technical.
Whatever the reality behind Netflix not even offering its iPad app on the Vision Pro, Apple certainly has its work cut out to convince some of the world’s biggest apps to join its $3,499 “spatial computing” party. It’s rubbing many developers the wrong way with its potential approach to sideloading on the iPhone, and we’ll likely need to wait until at least the Vision Pro 2 before it gets close to being mainstream.
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