Colin Devroe

Photographer. Podcaster. Blogger. Reverse Engineer.

Magic Leap of faith

I’ve covered some news regarding Magic Leap a few times here on the blog. You can skim the posts here. I’ll pull a quote from something I wrote in the summer of 2018:

But I do think Magic Leap is playing a dangerous game with the hype machine. They should try to lower expectations before their consumer or business devices hit the market. This way when the press covers them the reviews will be glowing rather than lukewarm.

Rather than try to lower expectations they went nearly completely silent. And everything they’ve uploaded to YouTube was confusing, boring, and showed almost nothing. So odd.

Well, now they are trying to sell after trying to have a big exit to Facebook.

Just a quick rant regarding valuations, raising a bunch of money, and hype… if I may.

Magic Leap played this wrong from the jump. Yes, VR is an issue that has taken, and will take a lot more, money to solve. There is no way around it. However, you don’t need to blow the money into the wind either. You can get a core team, even a well paid team, and iterate. Oculus seems to have done that to some degree – even though they were able to secure a large exit to Facebook.

Second, if you raise a huge amount of money you very quickly eliminate the possible acquisition targets for your company (if you want to exit in that way). There are a lot of companies in the world that can afford to acquire a company for $10M-$100M. There are relatively few that can for $10B+.

Third, if you hype up your technology as much as Magic Leap has, almost any demonstration they were able to do would lead to a “this is what you’ve spent billions on?” type of reaction.

If Magic Leap has solved any big technical hurdles for VR I sincerely hope those solutions make it into the market in some way – either through a fire sale, open source, whatever. But I do hope the company itself goes belly up to show others this isn’t how you do this.

Palmer Lucky on Magic Leap

Palmer Lucky, co-founder of Oculus (no longer with the company):

The product they put out is reasonably solid, but is nowhere close to what they had hyped up, and has several flaws that prevent it from becoming a broadly useful tool for development of AR applications. That is not good for the XR industry. It is slightly better than Hololens in some ways, slightly worse in others, and generally a small step past what was state of the art three years ago – this is more Hololens 1.1 than Consumer AR 1.0.

He didn’t hold back. But, then again, I wouldn’t expect him to.

Magic Leap hype

First line in this Wired piece about the Magic Leap One:

In retrospect, Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz realizes that all the hype was a big mistake. “I think we were arrogant,” he says.

Umm, yeah.

/via Daring Fireball.

Magic Leap One Creator Edition

Adi Robertson for The Verge:

But the Magic Leap One’s 50-degree diagonal field of view, while larger than the competing Microsoft HoloLens, is still extremely limited. And the image quality feels roughly on par with the two-year-old HoloLens. It’s generally good, but with some tracking and transparency issues. Given how much effort Magic Leap has apparently put into cultivating internal creative teams and outside partners, we were also disappointed at the lack of substantial experiences from them. But that last thing, at least, isn’t a major issue for developers right now — since they can now buy Magic Leap’s hardware and start testing their own stuff.

Overall she gives the hardware a very positive review, the software a very lukewarm review, and the “experience” a “meh”. While this release is for developers to get their hands on the devices, I believe the hype this company has built around itself has hurt them. No matter what they showed in this first version it would have been disappointing to many.

I’ve personally never used a HoloLens nor a Magic Leap so I’ll still hold out judgement until I do. But I do think Magic Leap is playing a dangerous game with the hype machine. They should try to lower expectations before their consumer or business devices hit the market. This way when the press covers them the reviews will be glowing rather than lukewarm.

Magic Leap blaming COVID-19 for why it has to lay off 1,000 people is just a terrible bit of messaging. They have raised nearly $3B. And they can’t raise any more right now. And the FB deal fell through. So they have no choice regardless of this pandemic.

Speaking of mixed reality experiences, a company that hasn’t delivered yet is Magic Leap. Coming up on 9 years and $2.6B in funding.

What I saw this week #52: July 13, 2018

More accurately, what I’ve seen somewhat lately.

I’ve been off my blogging game lately as I’m making the switch from Mac to Windows. So I’m busy moving photo libraries, installing apps and services, configuring options, and learning keyboard shortcuts.

Here are a few things I wish I had more time to write about, but do not.

  • Android P Beta 4 – Android P is looking like a very solid release of Android. I’m tempted to run these betas but I’ve been patient.
  • Firefox – I’ve switched to using Firefox full-time across all platforms. I’ve been doing so for a few months now and I’m loving it.
  • Firefox Containers & Firefox Color – Both of these are great “pilot” extensions. Oh, and I was wrong in 2017 when I thought “Containers” was the wrong word. It was the right word.
  • Wired on Surface Go – The Surface Go looks like a fantastic device at a fantastic price. The only thing I would change about it would be to include the keyboard. The Surface needs a keyboard because Windows 10’s tablet mode isn’t very good (yet?)
  • Magic Leap’s recent demo – I’ve been keeping my eye on many things MR (mixed reality) and Magic Leap is one of them. They are purposefully not showing off their technology. I haven’t figured out why yet. It could either be that it is impossible to show their tech in a video and you have to experience it to get the full effect, or it isn’t nearly as good as they lead on. I’m willing to bet the former only because of the enormous amount of capital they’ve raised. I hope their investors demanded a demo prior to investing.
  • MSFT Teams goes free – I use Teams every day at work. It isn’t very good. Especially when you compare it to Slack. Slack is very, very, very good. And Teams is hardly tolerable. Microsoft has a lot of catching up to do here. However, in a recent video Satya says he uses it every day so I hope it gets the attention it needs. Who would have thought that team chat would have been such a massive sector?
  • Digg’s v4 launch – Will Larson recounts the launch of Digg 4.0. Fairly brutal. But I can say that my experience launching things isn’t that far off from what he recounts. Launch days are incredible. Even if well planned.
  • B2B vs B2C – Justin Kan on the differences between the two markets. I agree with him. I love B2B. See also.

I hope within a few weeks I’ll be back to my normal publishing self. Until then…

Magic Leaps continues to evade giving a full demo of the actual use of their product. Incredible.