Remaining innovative keeps companies from fading from the public eye and eventually being replaced and made obsolete. Microsoft invests heavily into research and development to maintain their position as a growing an evolving tech company. However a common problem involves bringing products or technology to market before consumers, businesses, or the product is ready. From tablet PCs to smartwatches Microsoft develops ground breaking products which flop regardless of their innovative nature, and they hope to make sure the HoloLens is different.
Introducing an entirely new product category with completely new ways of interaction an experiences can be risky. The HoloLens embodies Microsoft’s innovative spirit while threatening to be another example of Microsoft pushing a product to market at a bad time. When the HoloLens was initially introduced to the world and the first prototype demos were happening, reactions were of complete awe and amazement. The next demo phase introduced production quality hardware with a wildly different field of view, and when the experience exists only in a narrow window the overall illusion feels cheap.
Instead of shoving the product into the hands of consumers regardless of a harsh reception by the press, it now sounds like Microsoft’s first release of the HoloLens will be small, focusing on enterprises and developers. Initially the HoloLens was imagined as a gaming peripheral, but Satya Nadella told the team they needed to broaden their vision of the product. This broadening involved opening the door to enterprises, businesses, and professionals like architects, engineers, and industrial designers.
In an interview with the BBC Nadella says:
“we’ll have developer versions of [the HoloLens] first and then it will be more commercial use cases then it’ll evolve. This is a five year journey, but we’re looking forward to getting v1 out which is more around developers and enterprises you know it’s in the Windows 10 timeframe which means that it is within the next year”
The current plan seems to be, start with developers and enterprises while the hardware can catch up to provide consumers with a better, more immersive experience. Expanding the field of view is the major hurdle the HoloLens team needs to overcome, and overcoming it may involve faster hardware or new display technology. However they plan to improve the device by the time a consumer focused device launches it should be more polished, wider field of view, and ideally a reasonable price point, but that version could be years away.