Last week, we told you about Microsoft's Alex Kipman and his nomination for the annual European Inventor Award, presented by the European Patent Office (EPO). And while that's big news in and of itself, it turns out we overlooked a very important detail buried in the EPO's video presentation. What was it? Only one of the most sought-after data points related to the HoloLens since its launch: how many have been sold.
That's the question many have been asking in the face of numerous product demos, in-store displays, and slick commercials that all tout the powers of the HoloLens and its ability to take us into the world of high-end augmented reality. The question is important because, although the device costs $3,000, if the HoloLens is as revolutionary as some think it is, part of its ultimate success will hinge upon how many early adopters are buying it and developing for it.
In January of 2017, in a story published by UK tech site The Inquirer, Microsoft HoloLens executive Roger Walkden told the site that HoloLens sales were in the "thousands." Specifically, Walkden said, "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."
It was hard to discern what that really meant at the time. Did that mean that Microsoft has sold 10,000 devices? Or 99,000?
Well, it now it looks like we have an answer.
According to the EPO's video presentation, Microsoft claims that they've sold about 50,000 HoloLens devices. In context, the video's narrator states, "The technology is still in the development stages. Microsoft says that about 50,000 copies have been sold so far, but many believe in the potential of these smartglasses."
Next Reality reached out to Microsoft to directly confirm this number, but the company did not immediately respond at the time of this writing.
Nevertheless, 50,000 HoloLens devices sold is almost certainly less than some might have guessed but still fairly impressive for such a high-priced device with extremely rarified use cases at present.
Of course, even though the sales figure in the EPO's video claims to be from Microsoft, the company has yet to confirm or announce sales numbers independently. Still, this is the closest we've come to knowing exactly what kind of traction the HoloLens really has in the real world.
And, assuming this figure is accurate, we now also have a distinct pricing vs. adoption watermark with which to judge other, similar devices. That's right, we're talking about Magic Leap. If it took Microsoft a little over two years to garner 50,000 HoloLens devices sold, observers will pay close attention to how long it takes Magic Leap to reach the same sales mark.
Sure, Magic Leap's sales prospects are fueled by a lot more hype than the HoloLens, but what the HoloLens lacked in early, mysterious hype it makes up for in the robust and trusted backing of Microsoft.
These numbers also raise another question: If the HoloLens had were priced at about $1,500 instead of $3,000 (at which point the company would almost be paying users to adopt the device), would its sales have been double what they are today? Magic Leap will no doubt face some of the same questions in the coming months, as the company has stated that its device, the Magic Leap One: Creator Edition, will cost as much as a premium laptop, which could be anything from $2,000 to $3,000 (or more).
Therefore, it looks like we'll have a fairly even benchmark to compare how the two devices are faring in terms of overall traction in the next 12 months. Your move, Magic Leap.