A post on Thurott.com reports that Microsoft is skipping the second version of the Hololens and we won’t see the next generation before 2019. There can be several reasons for this – but the most likely is that Microsoft realised there will be no competitor with a comparable device this year or the next. Either way, it seems that Microsoft has taken the lead with a great start in the Mixed Reality race with Magic Leap and Meta close at the heels. But don’t forget the dark horse in this race… Apple.
It all starts with a toy
Often we talk about smart glasses as if it is a simple technology to achieve. Google Glass proved that disruptive technologies need their time.
“Disruptive technologies are dismissed as toys because when they are first launched they “undershoot” user needs. The first telephone could only carry voices a mile or two. The leading telco of the time, Western Union, passed on acquiring the phone because they didn’t see how it could possibly be useful to businesses and railroads – their primary customers.” Chris Dixon, a16z
Many products can look like toys before they become successful. Just take Instagram as an example – it was just a photo filters app at the beginning, now it is one of the largest media properties in the world. Personal computers are the same – initially intended for hobbyists since they were underpowered and weren’t useful for business applications.
Why HoloLens has time
The HoloLens story was different from the start: it all began with a Apple styled surprise at the end of the Windows 10 presentation. Of course, the expectations were high after the HoloLens was presented. However, I think it is fair to say that Microsoft delivered. Sure, the 40 degree field of view is not big and it could be smaller and lighter. The battery could also be improved, I agree. But on the other side, it is the first time that I have seen such open acceptance for smart glasses device for both consumer and enterprise.
Meta released the second edition of their Mixed Realty glasses last year, Magic Leap announced to show the fist prototype this year (we reported on WeAreAR). As for Apple, it seems to be clear that Cupertino is working on AR glasses but so far we don’t have any roadmap. If Apple doesn’t release a glasses product, there will be no real competition to prevent a Microsoft monopoly and will also give Microsoft the time to gather the feedback they have from hundreds of applications currently in action to improve the HoloLens.
It all started with the Google Glass – call it a toy. Now the Mixed Reality Glasses show that they can add value and change the way we will work and live in the future.