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Microsoft explains why it's happy selling only 'thousands' of Hololens headsets

Why it matters to you

Hololens is not going mainstream just yet, but Microsoft should make AR more affordable in the future.

Though potential buyers voiced objections when the price for the Oculus Rift was announced at $600 rather than the low hundreds as was originally promised, the Microsoft Hololens augmented reality headset came in at a much higher $3,000 price mark. That’s certainly part of why it has only sold a few thousand units, but Microsoft claims it’s happy with sales so far.

“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,” said Microsoft’s Hololens commercial lead, Roger Walkden, at the BETT show in London this week (via The Inquirer).

Ultimately, he said, Microsoft isn’t “trying to sell hundreds of thousands or millions or anything. It’s expensive, and it’s not in huge numbers. So we’re happy with the level of sales that we’ve got.”

The Hololens is indeed expensive, costing as much as $5,000 if purchased by a company. It is also very much a developmental kit-level device. When we tried the augmented reality headset back in 2015, we noted that it has a limited field of view and the visuals on the AR device are not particularly sharp.

More: HoloMaps hits Microsoft’s HoloLens headset with 3D maps and remote collaboration

The plan for Hololens is much like the early VR developer kits, too, in that it’s there to help seed the market with content and allow companies to build their own augmented reality hardware and platforms. That way, as the technology becomes more mainstream, it will have a solid foundation to build from.

Walkden said as much himself, highlighting that virtual reality has taken years to get to where it is now and that it’s still in the earliest iterations of its commercial life cycle. He believes AR will be much the same way, which is why Microsoft isn’t concerned that the Hololens hasn’t taken off as well as its VR hardware brethren.

Walkden wouldn’t be drawn out on any immediate plans for AR hardware from Microsoft though, stating that the company kept that information far from him should he let slip about it. He did confirm that a roadmap does exist though, so we can likely expect much more from Microsoft in this field in the future.