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Magic Leap Would Flop Even If It Was Good

by David MacQueen | 8月 10, 2018

After nearly 8 years and more than $2 billion in funding, Magic Leap finally managed to launch an actual device. Reviewers universally panned the hardware. After blaming journalists for the poor reviews ("expectations... have spiraled out of control"), the CEO pointed to a table with cloth covering something and claimed it was further iterations of the hardware.

Leaving aside the worries investors must have about whether or not the CEO is the reincarnation of Charles Ponzi, it wouldn't have mattered whether or not the hardware was actually good, as the strategy for Magic Leap is significantly flawed.
  • The price point of $2,295 means that this is not a consumer device
  • The ugly, bulky design also means that this is not a consumer device
  • As discussed in depth in the recent report Dedicated AR Devices - Market and Outlook, the market for dedicated AR devices is driven by enterprise, not consumer. It has been that way since AR technology started (arguably in 1942) and we expect it to remain that way for the next 3 years or more
  • The "experiences" which Magic Leap has focused on providing are all for the consumer, not enterprise. Partners such as NBA, Weta and Sigur Rós might be on-trend in the consumer space, but seem irrelevant for a device with an enterprise price point and the industrial looks to match
So the device sits uncomfortably between the consumer and enterprise markets. The price is too high and the design too ugly to attract consumers. Yet the focus on content (rather than useful business applications) positions it outside of the enterprise market.

Even if it were to launch as an enterprise product, it would have a difficult time displacing the likes of Microsoft's HoloLens at the high end of that market, or even Google Glass and Vuzix at the low end. Those companies have by now generated years of experience of delivering on the AR needs of enterprise customers. In contrast, Magic Leap has ignored the only market it could reasonably address and spent not a dime of the $2 billion in funding to even attempt to compete in that space.

Perhaps when the CEO whips away the tablecloth to reveal that next version - assuming it exists of course - it will be a good device with a good business strategy to match.
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