CNet reports that Asus CEO Jonney Shih and Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s EVP of Windows and devices, have been discussing the possibility of Asus coming out with their own version of Microsoft HoloLens. According to the report, Asus is interested in becoming the first company to develop and make a HoloLens device. It is not clear whether such a device would be based directly on the Microsoft Hololens technology as a licensing deal or if it would be based on Asus own technology development. This comes shortly after Microsoft announced the availability of the HoloLens device for developers in 2016.
With a $3,000 price tag for the HoloLens plus SDK, there is clearly no talk of the release of a consumer device next year.
Cnet also quotes Myerson as saying that “everything we’re doing in hardware, we do with the mind of how do we grow the Windows ecosystem. That is why we’re investing to create a category.” The article continues by stating that it will be up to Asus to decide if it wants to build a HoloLens device or not. Being asked when Microsoft will start to sell a cheaper version for consumers, Myerson answered, “when my kids can’t put the Minecraft on HoloLens down, we know it’s ready for Minecraft players.”
At the recent Windows 10 device announcement, Microsoft was presenting itself as a competitor to Apple and a serious developer of electronics hardware. The statement that “it is up to Asus to decide if they are making a HoloLens device or not”, puts this strategy in perspective. The cash cow here is Windows 10; if Microsoft can make some money in hardware they will be surely happy, but making their customers for Windows 10 happy will always be more important.
This is the dilemma Microsoft faces in its position as a company. Developing hardware to further the Windows platform is certainly a good thing, however when it is time to sell these devices to the consumer they are automatically a competitor to their customers. So far they have stayed out of trouble by selling the Surface tablet at a really high price (hence the comparison to Apple in the recent announcement). This view is actually somewhat disturbing as it would point at the HoloLens as a proof of concept device rather than a real consumer device. So where will Microsoft be going in this market? I guess they do not know themselves. (NH)