‘The Kinect was not a pleasant experience.’
In 2010, Microsoft launched the Kinect for the Xbox 360- the Kinect went on to have an enormously successful launch, selling 10 million units worldwide in just 60 days. So successful was Kinect, in fact, that it informed the direction of Microsoft’s first party efforts, as well as the development of the Xbox One console, which was originally supposed to be inextricably tied to the usage of the new Kinect.
But Kinect ultimately fizzled out- sales slowed to a halt, games stopped coming in, as developer realized that it was cool technology ultimately unsuited to games, and consumers roundly rejected the Xbox One with its Kinect trappings, leading Microsoft to decouple the console from the camera in an attempt to boost sales.
Perhaps afraid of having a repeat of something like this, Microsoft will be suspending launch plans for a consumer version of HoloLens, their next new exciting piece of technology, until they feel it, and consumers, are ‘ready.’
“When I feel the world is ready, then we will allow normal people to buy it,” Microsoft’s Alex Kipman said on Thursday, speaking to reporters at the TED conference in Vancouver, reports Re/Code. “It could be as soon as we say ‘yes,’ and it could be as long as a ‘very long time.’”
Kipman went on to explain Microsoft’s reasoning for this decision. “If a consumer bought it today, they would have 12 things to do with it,” he said. “And they would say ‘Cool, I bought a $3,000 product that I can do 12 things with and now it is collecting dust.’”
$3,000 is, of course, the price of the HoloLens dev kit at the moment.
Kipman’s words recall the kind of problem that Kinect had- where it was expensive new technology that sold itself on some gee whiz technical wizardry, but then had no real practical applications. That is exactly the scenario that Microsoft wants to avoid this time around.
“[The Kinect] was not a pleasant experience,” Kipman said. “It was just not ready to go sell 10 million units in 60 days, which is what it did.”
It seems like a sensible decision, but I am still bummed- what we have seen of HoloLens looks extremely cool, limitations and all. Hopefully it is released to consumers sooner rather than later.