November 19, 2018

Is HoloLens Going to Be a Commodity?





There is something in a previous post that I haven’t explain well, and I think it deserves a separate post.

I mentioned Jerry Nixon, Microsoft’s Developer Evangelist, wrote in a blog post: “HoloLens is going to be a commodity.” Here I quote him again,

HoloLens is going to be a commodity. That means it is going to be cheap (which is relative, I know). When you include HoloLens in a solution, you aren’t including an investment in some strange, proprietary whatever. You are just including HoloLens, with a standardized version of Windows, a standard application model, with standard languages and APIs, and everything you can expect a development team to already know or easily learn.

To be cautious, he is not one of the executives. Jerry is basically making developer pitch for HoloLens. Otherwise we would consider it official. Also he probably wouldn’t know how much a HoloLens is going to cost. But still, he is standing inside of the wall, we are outside. What he says carries much more weight than that of many market analysts combined.

Jerry Nixon: “Why you must build a HoloLens app”

I don’t want to say it literally: “HoloLens is going to be cheap”, but I am more comfortable to say: “HoloLens is going to be a commodity”.  So, what does it mean?

I want to draw a comparison with Xbox. Everybody knows Microsoft don’t make money selling Xbox consoles (more likely losing money, I don’t have figures now). Microsoft make money from software (game) sale commissions. Even though Xbox doesn’t make money as a gaming platform, it is an important part of the entire Windows strategy. This is why I don’t like the market analysts. They think of products as separate pieces. Each piece has to make money. If one piece is losing money, it has negative contribution, therefore has no reason to exist. They don’t understand: without the losing money products, the money making products may not make the same money. Xbox is intrinsically important to the entire Windows strategy, so is HoloLens.

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I wouldn’t draw a conclusion that HoloLens is going to be cheap, but it is very likely in the ream of very thin or even negative profit margin, for the hardware. At least that is what it should be.

I had tried to guess HoloLens price recently. I had put it in a $800~900 prices range a few days ago. Now I tend to go lower than this. Just how cheap you can call cheap? $800 is not cheap no matter what it can do. I’ll leave this to you.


UAP, HoloLens, Recommended Readings – Developer’s Collection

HoloLens, Recommended Readings – Business Ideas Collection


HoloLens Price: Re-estimated




I decided to have some fun today. No, not because of April 1st. I am serious. I don’t joke about money, like what Richard Gere said in Pretty Woman. Anyway, I made sure I put “estimate” in the tile, and here we go.

I have done the same thing not long ago, in “HoloLen: Price Estimation“, I have given an estimation of $500~$1000, and likely $700-$900. I am still OK with that. Then Microsoft announced Surface 3 yesterday. Two things came from Surface 3 makes me write this post: Surface 3 will be the first PC to use Intel Cherry Trail processor and Surface 3 sells for $500, starting early next month.

If look carefully, you will find Surface 3 is the closest thing we have in estimating HoloLens price: They are both Windows PCs; They both use Cherry Trail CPU; They are both made by Microsoft; They will be in the market in just a few months apart. I think nothing better than Surface 3 in this regard.

Why HoloLens Is Not Kinect

My method is this: I take the Surface 3’s price $500 as the base price, subtract things Surface 3 has but HoloLens doesn’t, then add things HoloLens has but Surface 3 doesn’t.

1. Surface 3 =  $500

2. Surface 3 vapor-mag chassis is really high end material, and its kickstand is not easy to manufacture. We don’t know the materials of HoloLens’ double-ring frame, but I would put Surface 3’s chassis plus kickstand $30 above HoloLens. Now it’s $470.

3. Surface 3 has a HD LCD display panel and Corning Gorilla glass, HoloLens has a couple of layer of lenses. They have very different display technology. The HoloLens light engine is not known to anyone outside. So I put the two together and give HoloLens $100 ~ $150 more on display. Now it is $570 ~ 620.

4. Surface 3 doesn’t come with Kinect sensors. HoloLens does, actually there are two depth sensors, two RGB sensors and one IR emitter. The current Kinect price can only be a reference because it is very different now. I would add $250~350 for that, including the extra CPU. So we’ve got $820~970.

So, that’s my revised estimation: $820~970. That’s the market price. I am afraid this can be a little higher than it will turn out to be, only because I tend to be conservative (choose the higher side if I don’t know).
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HoloLens, Recommend Readings – Developer’s Collection

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