Microsoft HoloLens inventor says the 'phone is already dead'


Microsoft thinks a "mixed reality" device like the HoloLens could replace phones.
Microsoft thinks a “mixed reality” device like the HoloLens could replace phones.

Image: Andrew Burton/mashable

Hey, did you hear? Smartphones are dead.

That’s according to Microsoft’s Alan Kipman, better known as the inventor of the company’s HoloLens augmented reality headset.

“The phone is already dead,” Kipman told Bloomberg. “People just haven’t realized.”

If the phone is dead, then, what will replace it? Kipman believes a device capable of “mixed reality” could be its replacement.

It’s a bold claim that was sorta shared by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella earlier this week when he said phones will look very different in the future. “I’m sure we’ll make more phones, but they will not look like phones that are there today.”

Will we all be wearing HoloLens headsets in the future instead of phones?

Will we all be wearing HoloLens headsets in the future instead of phones?

Image: Andrew Burton/mashable

Stepping back for a second, it’s pretty clear the statement is an exaggeration. Smartphones are far from dead. In 2016, 1.49 billion smartphones were shipped worldwide according to Gartner. That’s a lot of friggin’ phones.

Kipman’s words reminds me of when everyone said laptops were dead when the iPad launched and kickstarted the tablet revolution for a “post-PC” world. Tablets became the hot new “computer”, but sales have largely cooled down and continue to fall. The post-PC world never happened. 

Also, of course phones are dead… for Microsoft. It lost the mobile war big time. Microsoft failed to convince anyone to care about Windows Phone and then Windows 10 Mobile, and its Nokia buyout turned out to be a waste of $7.2 billion.

VR, AR and mixed reality tech may be the darlings of the future, but that doesn’t mean they’ll replace phones. Just as PCs and laptops haven’t been completely displaced, I just don’t see phones going away anytime soon. They’re gonna be here for a very long time.

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