Microsoft opened pre-order sales for its HoloLens Development Edition on Monday in a move to expand the ecosystem for its augmented reality device, and avoid a repeat of the Kinect conundrum.
Microsoft is selling the HoloLens Development Edition for $3,000, with shipments beginning on March 30 in the US, Microsoft announced Monday. With this edition, developers will also receive access to documentation, a developer community, and additional developer tools like Visual Studio projects. Once the developer edition starts shipping, Microsoft will release its HoloLens emulator, so that developers can test holographic apps on PCs without need of an actual HoloLens.
"This is the first step in our journey to consumers. A step focused on our commercial partnerships and on supporting developers, who will help pave the way to consumer availability with amazing new holographic experiences," said Alex Kipman, a Microsoft technical fellow and creator of the HoloLens, in a blog post.
The Redmond giant is aiming to build up a wide breath of apps for the AR device before it ships to consumers, in a move to avoid a repeat of its Kinect disaster. Initially, the Kinect had an astronomical surge in sales, but that early rocket ride crashed after consumers could not find enough apps for the game to justify its purchase.
Microsoft's Kinect strategy failed in that it believed that once it was widely used by consumers across its markets that developers would jump in to create games, according to TechRadar.
Kipman, in a presentation last week at the TED conference in Vancouver, is keenly aware a reverse strategy is needed.
"If a consumer bought (HoloLens) today, they would have 12 things to do with it," Kipman is quoted in a Re/code article. "And they would say, 'Cool, I bought a $3,000 product that I can do 12 things with and now it is collecting dust.'"
Microsoft, which introduced HoloLens over a year ago, has had thousands of developers play with the device and contribute ideas to via Microsoft's "Share Your Idea" pathway. Its HoloLens roadshows were fully booked within 90 minutes after becoming available for sign-up, Kipman noted in his blog, adding, "The enthusiasm we are seeing is exciting."
HoloLens is closely tied to the Windows 10 operating system, which supports APIs for holographic computing. HoloLens is designed to be a set of augmented reality glasses that imposes a visual layer over the real environment that surrounds the user. (A virtual reality device fully immerses a user in a created environment.)
Although the HoloLens will be shipping to developers at the end of March, no date has been given as to when it will eventually reach consumers.
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