Microsoft underestimated business interest in HoloLens

Kit McDonald

HoloLens Exagerated Field of View

The Microsoft HoloLens Development Edition that was released last week gave some interesting insight on the future use of the upcoming hologram projecting headset. Many of the purchases of the $3000 hardware weren’t for household use, but instead commercial businesses that seek to use the new tool for advancing their market. Businesses and large groups such as Lowes, Saab, and Shanska have decided to take advantage of the opportunities that the headset can provide by utilizing the holographic overlay for remodeling homes to having a first person perspective as users connect with sales representatives.

Even Microsoft’s chief marketing officer, Chris Capossela was surprised by the reaction of the commercial interest in the HoloLens. During the Envision Conference taking place this week in New Orleans, Capossela made a statement to reporters emphasizing that the hardware was originally intended for gaming but has evolved into a much more useful product.

“We totally underestimated the commercial interest in this thing. The team who built it, a lot of them had their roots in Xbox. Alex Kipman and Kudo [Tsunoda]. And so they originally envisioned it as something more along those lines, but as we started to show it to people, we were blown away by the commercial interest.”

CEO Satya Nadella has decided to embrace the new direction of the HoloLens as well. Chris Capossela claimed that he originally had told the development team, “Hey I love this thing, but I think you’re going to find that the scenarios are more interesting on the commercial side early on.” Sure enough, it was more interesting leading into new ventures and environments such as the Destination Mars exhibit from NASA.

While the HoloLens has evolved to be an exceptional productivity headset, the $3000 price tag is unreasonable for most everyday household use. Capossela ensured consumers that while the demand is low in comparison to the business interest, the price would eventually reduce.

“It’s a journey we’re going to go on, where over time the hardware will get better, things will get cheaper,” Capossela said. “But for it to be something really broadly available, where you can go to Best Buy and buy it for a Christmas gift, we’re not there and instead, I think the real V1 scenarios are about these business scenarios that people are really excited about.”

Chris Caposella spoke at the Microsoft Envision conference about the future business opportunities for the HoloLens.

With comparisons to the competing Oculus Rift and HTC Vibe that have already reached consumers worldwide with much more reasonable pricing, HoloLens appears to be trailing behind the virtual reality market. Even with the delay in development compared to the others, Capossela is confident in the execution of the Microsoft HoloLens, “We’re very excited that all the VR work is happening on Windows. We love that. We love that Oculus requires a big gaming rig. Those are very positive things for the Windows ecosystem, and we want Windows to be the place that VR happens.”