Microsoft is far away from the stage of expecting to make money from HoloLens. This is a technology for the future that thus far is only available as a developer edition. The company has not started rolling out the augmented reality headset to consumers. Despite this, Microsoft says this phase of the HoloLens has been successful, with thousands of units sold.
When we discuss units, it is of course in reference to the developer kits. Those early editions of the hardware cost a whopping $3,000. They have been created for developers to get used to using HoloLens and to build apps and services for mixed reality.
Because of the cost, it was always unlikely that HoloLens would sell in huge quantities. With that in mind, thousands (meaning under 100,000) is as good as Microsoft could have hoped for. Indeed, the company's expectations were confirmed by Roger Walkden, Microsoft's HoloLens lead, in an interview with the enquirer.
“We're not trying to sell hundreds of thousands or millions or anything, it's expensive, and it's not in huge numbers,” says Walkden. “We're happy with the level of sales that we've got. I can't tell you anything about the numbers, but it's in thousands, not hundreds of thousands, and that's fine. That's all we need.”
Microsoft has made it clear that this phase of HoloLens is hugely important. It is unclear if the consumer version of the headset will cost $3,000, but the company admits it will be expensive. The device will move beyond a normal tech product in terms of cost.
To ensure customers are both adequately enticed and then impressed by the device, Microsoft needs there to be enough quality content available. While the company has several of its own services (Windows 10, Office, Outlook) running on the device, what developers bring to the party will be crucial.
It is good news, then, to see that thousands of units have been sold. Developers are bolstering the capabilities of HoloLens.
HoloLens for Everyone
Microsoft has not discussed a roadmap for introducing a consumer version of HoloLens. We do know that the headset will be almost exactly the same as the developer kit. One of the most impressive things about the hardware is that Microsoft made it consumer-ready from the start. In other words, the device already looks like a consumer-oriented device.
Getting the developer edition is much easier these days. Project chief Alex Kipman announced in August that all business and developer partners in the US can buy up to five headsets. Microsoft had previously carefully vetted who could buy HoloLens.