The first time Tim Cook tested the Apple Vision Pro headphones, they weren't called Apple Vision Pro yet. That was a long time ago, six, seven, even eight years ago. The company has yet to build Apple Park, this incredible circular structure surrounded by several kilometers of curved glass, where we now find ourselves sitting at a bleached oak table. The rain passed, but the clouds eventually cleared over the pine and citrus and maple orchards. In this fascinating setting, Tim Cook tells me about his first encounter with a space computer in his characteristic Robertsdale, Alabama accent.
It's in Mariani 1, a building of just a few floors with opaque windows on the edge of the old Infinite Loop campus. What goes on in this building is confidential and is considered one of Apple's “black ops” facilities. Almost all of Apple's thousands of employees have never crossed the threshold. You have to go through several doors that close behind you and in front of you. Tim Cook, the CEO of the apple brand, has sesame. It passes rooms where foldable iPhones, MacBooks with retractable keyboards or see-through TVs have been imagined. These devices, which will never leave this building, are stored in Pelicase lockable suitcases, lockable cabinets.
This building belongs to apple folklore. The iPod and iPhone were invented within its walls. And it's in the same building that Tim Cook joins the industrial design team working on this facility that virtually no one knows exists. Featuring Mike Rockwell, Group Vice President of Apple Vision Products. “The system was terrible,” the CEO confided to me. He is asked to sit down and a huge helmet is placed over his face. It's pretty crude, a kind of giant box covered in half a dozen side-by-side screens and cameras that stick out like whiskers. “It was still imported at the time,” he continues. Impressive fans whiz on either side of his face, creating a steady hum. The device is connected by cables that snake through the floor to a supercomputer in another room. We push the buttons, the lights go on, the graphics processors fire up at billions of cycles per second and… Tim Cook is put on the moon!
He really is sitting on the moon. Along with Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong of Apollo 11, he marvels at the strangely glowing lunar dust under a star-studded black sky. That's wonderful. In the distance, he sees Earth, this big blue dot. Where all this magic happens.
But Tim Cook isn't just on the moon. He didn't leave a secret room in a secret building. He can see Mike Rockwell and other Apple employees, as well as his own hands. He suddenly gets a message that seems to be sent by the universe. He realizes that the future of computers, entertainment, apps, and memories is fundamentally tied to a large device on his face. He understands that Apple needs to make this their next flagship product.
Tim Cook still doesn't know how his engineers were going to manipulate this thing, which requires a supercomputer in another room, fans and multiple screens to reduce it to featherlight spectacles. “We'll get there eventually, I've been convinced of that for years,” he explains. “I didn't know when, but I knew we would get there. »
The time has finally come. The first Vision Pro, packaged in a pristine white cube the size of a shoebox, goes on sale in stores from 2024. Friday, February 2. Tens of thousands of Apple fans have already pre-ordered it. More than 200,000 copies were sold in less than a week. Of course, this customer base is easy to reach. Tim Cook and his army of executives know the company will still have to convince the rest of the population to spend $3,500 on a space computer that will affect every aspect of their lives. A headset that makes you feel like you're “rushing down the slopes of The Matrix,” as a friend whispered, and doesn't let you access popular apps like Netflix and YouTube—at least not yet. People are flocking to try Apple's Vision Pro, Tim Cook has no doubt about that, but buying one might be a different story. Fortunately for Apple, everyone who got a chance to get their hands on it before the official launch was full of praise.
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