HoloLens: A Dim Outlook or a Bright Future?
The future of Microsoft's HoloLens, a pioneering device in the realm of augmented reality (AR), has been the subject of much speculation and debate. Amidst rumors of internal divisions, strategic uncertainty, and the cancellation of the much-anticipated HoloLens 3, the tech giant's AR ambitions seem to be in a state of flux. This blog post aims to dissect the various reports and rumors surrounding the future of HoloLens, providing a comprehensive overview of the current situation.
HoloLens 3: Cancelled or Still in the Pipeline?
The HoloLens, Microsoft's flagship AR headset, has been a significant player in the enterprise sector, with the second-generation device finding success with companies like Ford, ThyssenKrupp, and the U.S. Army. However, recent reports suggest that the future of the HoloLens, specifically the third iteration, is uncertain.
According to a report from Business Insider, Microsoft has allegedly scrapped plans for the HoloLens 3 due to internal disagreements about the device's target market. While some factions within the company, led by HoloLens co-creator Alex Kipman, reportedly wanted to make the device available to general consumers, others advocated for a continued focus on businesses and enterprises. This strategic uncertainty, coupled with Kipman's departure from Microsoft in June 2022, has cast a shadow over the future of the HoloLens 3.
However, despite these rumors, Scott Evans, Vice President of Mixed Reality at Microsoft, has stated that the company still has plans for the next HoloLens. According to Evans, the delay in the release of the HoloLens 3 is due to the company's effort to prevent churn from constantly replacing devices with new ones. He hinted that the HoloLens 3, when it does arrive, will likely be targeted at businesses, not regular consumers.
Internal Struggles and the Future of HoloLens
The strategic uncertainty surrounding the HoloLens 3 is not the only challenge facing Microsoft's AR ambitions. The company has also reportedly been struggling with its military HoloLens, the Integrated Audio Visual System (IVAS). Reports suggest that soldiers who wore the IVAS experienced physical adverse effects, such as headaches, eyestrain, and nausea.
Furthermore, the HoloLens team has seen significant attrition over the past few months, with several high-profile members leaving for other companies. This, coupled with the alleged internal divisions and strategic uncertainty, has led to a reportedly chaotic working environment.
Despite these challenges, Microsoft remains committed to the HoloLens and its future development. The company's spokesperson, Frank Shaw, has stated that HoloLens is a critical part of Microsoft's plans for emerging categories like mixed reality and the metaverse. Alex Kipman, too, has voiced his support for the HoloLens, stating on Twitter that the device is "doing great."
A Shift in Strategy?
Amidst the rumors and reports of internal struggles, there are indications that Microsoft may be shifting its AR strategy. The company has reportedly entered into a partnership with Samsung to develop a new mixed-reality device. This move, along with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's emphasis on a "software-led approach" toward the metaverse, suggests that the company may be moving towards a more software-focused approach to AR, rather than focusing solely on hardware.
This shift in strategy could potentially see the HoloLens 3's focus change drastically. The device could be split into two separate projects: one to service the US military contract and another to appeal to consumers. This would represent a significant change of course for the HoloLens product line, which has historically been geared towards enterprise and military applications.
The future of the HoloLens, and Microsoft's AR ambitions more broadly, remains uncertain. Amidst rumors of internal divisions, strategic uncertainty, and the cancellation of the HoloLens 3, the tech giant's AR strategy appears to be in a state of flux. However, despite these challenges, Microsoft remains committed to the HoloLens and its future development. As the AR landscape continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see how Microsoft navigates these challenges and what the future holds for the HoloLens.