Playing the Long Game: Why Microsoft might skip straight to HoloLens Version 3 in 2019
Rumours, as we all know are called rumours for a reason. Coming from the Latin ‘rumorem’ meaning hearsay or popular opinion and solidified further from the Old French ‘rumor’ meaning commotion or widespread noise today the word essentially means gossip. It is a piece of ‘news’ which may or may not be true. We just don’t know. N.B. That is not to confuse rumours with ‘alternative facts’ which are another story entirely.
But etymology aside, and as we’ve seen, rumours are rumours for a reason. So when Microsoft and Mixed Reality are involved these rumours must be taken with a pinch of salt. Earlier this month for instance we were still looking forward to the second iteration of Microsoft’s Mixed Reality headset HoloLens in 2018 or even later this year. Fast forward a couple of weeks and a new rumour has surfaced that Microsoft might skip HoloLens version 2 altogether and concentrate on version 3 which has been earmarked for 2019.
A rather curt statement from Microsoft to comment on the rumour said that “Our commitment requires no roadmap.” Or, in other words, ‘you stick to your rumours. We’ll do our own thing in our own time.’
And this, as we’ll see, is good news to know. This is one rumour which might have legs.
Not afraid of the competition
Along with the HoloLens there are a couple of potential big players in the market who could possibly challenge Microsoft for Mixed Reality supremacy. Those players being the old arch-nemesis Apple and new kids on the block such as Magic Leap and Meta.
Taking a quick look at the competitors from Microsoft’s perspective, we can see how they could come to the decision to delay the HoloLens’ next version release. Apple’s device, while seemingly likely, is just hearsay with no information on the subject coming out of Cupertino whatsoever. Apple, of course, is notorious for secrecy but Microsoft has no need to worry here. Microsoft has been long in the Mixed Reality game already thanks to its work on Kinect and this is experience which Apple does not have. Where Apple is concerned then Microsoft is prepared to simply wait and see what happens.
The same goes for Magic Leap because despite (at time of writing) the startup being valued at $4.5bn it has yet to deliver anything of note. Microsoft just doesn’t deal with such secrecy and Magic Leap’s smoke and mirrors approach and unfulfilled promises puts them firmly in the ‘let’s see what happens’ category.
Meta at least has a version of its hardware available for developers, as has Microsoft of course, and it looks like Microsoft are simply happy with their own advancements with HoloLens and Mixed Reality. They are clearly backing themselves that waiting longer will allow more time to bring out a better version of HoloLens than a quick iteration would have done.
These are our thoughts on the matter exactly. As our CEO, Max comments: “Although we were looking forward to the second version of HoloLens, we at Kazendi agree with Microsoft that HoloLens is the current leader in the Mixed Reality space, and in order for it to truly revolutionise the computer interface, it will need to go through more internal iterations.”
It must be noted too that Microsoft does release regular developer updates for the HoloLens and so it is not a case for developers being left in the dark for two years without support or software upgrades.
Microsoft is in the position where it doesn’t have to play its hand early and if this means pushing back the next version of HoloLens in order to perfect it than so be it.
Playing the Long Game
As Brad Sams commented himself in the original reporting of the news/rumour: “Microsoft is playing for the long-term with this technology.”
Our sentiments exactly and, while there is clear disappointment at the delay for the next, possibly more consumer-friendly HoloLens (a quick thanks to Jason Odom for getting our take on the rumour in his opinion piece) it shows that Microsoft is committed to Mixed Reality and is willing to hedge its bets that it will be the premier Mixed Reality device and software provider for the foreseeable future.