Microvision’s “Soothsayer(?)” for their “Number One Question”

My, the power of the blogosphere!  I just started this blog two weeks ago and Microvision has all the appearances of making a veiled response to my blog and having to issue an 8-K statement to the SEC.  Personally, I found Microvision blog/8-K full of half truths and obfuscations.  It also appears that since they couldn’t deal factually with what I wrote, they resorted to name calling with the pejorative “false soothsayer.”

Since my blog has led to a lot of questions and a firestorm of activity on the Yahoo Financial Message Boards (and the deletion of many of these posts) and the Investor’s Village Board on Microvision last week, and as far as I am aware I am the only person writing about the availability of green lasers in 2012 recently, I think it is pretty clear that the “soothsayer” they are referring to Microvision’s blog is me (if not me then who else?).

For those who haven’t seen the Form 8-K it can be found at:

http://biz.yahoo.com/e/111219/mvis8-k.html

Anything quoted below I will take directly from the 8-K statement.   For brevity, I did take snippets out but I will try snip enough to keep it in context.

First to the “soothsayers”:

“Lest you be led astray by false soothsayers, based on our periodic discussions and latest updates from three direct green laser developers we anticipate that Nichia, Osram and Soraa will release commercial versions of their lasers in 2012 and two of the three should have commercial direct green laser released by mid-2012.”

So who, other than me, are they accusing of being a “false soothsayer?”  How about being specific about what they think I (or someone else if there really is someone else they are speaking about) wrote that is false?    I would be happy to answer their accusations.

Their “number one question” is “.  .  . the topic we overwhelmingly receive the most questions about – direct green lasers (DGLs). Everyone wants us to tell them when they will be available!”   

This certainly is a key question for them, but really hides behind it a bunch of other issues.     I would suggest that they should also be asked about the price, efficiency, and wavelength of these lasers and whether they are expected to be suitable for making a practical embedded cell phone pico projector engine in 2012.

“ . . . So what do I mean by “commercial version” direct green laser?  It’s a laser that has passed through intense qualification by the component manufacturer to insure that it meets all of its intended performance specifications, with confirmed reliability and manufacturability necessary for mass production.”

The real question is whether these lasers will be available at a price point, with a wavelength, and an efficiency that is practical.   I don’t doubt that most if not all the companies will be in production with a green laser in 2012, but what constitutes “mass production” is a different matter.   Nichia already has a 510nm green laser in production, for example, and it might be possible to build a heads up display for an automobile with it (albeit a bit expensive for the purpose), but that is clearly impractical in terms of wavelength, efficiency, and cost for building a high volume battery powered projector.   I also question whether they will be bright enough for a volume product other than a HUD.

Also give a ball park as to what they mean by “mass production.”

“� DGLs will be much cheaper than synthetic green lasers at introduction.”

I would consider this to be obfuscating.   While they will be cheaper, the real question is whether they will be cheap enough and for what products?  Also are the lasers efficient enough, have the right green wavelength, and bright enough to make a practical projector?

“� Ultimately, pricing depends on volume and yield hence we will not know the final pricing next year. However, the two important points to focus on are: DGL are much easier to manufacture than their “synthetic” predecessors and the budgetary quotes we see today reflect cost that is substantially less than the cost of the synthetic green lasers we purchased from 2010-2011.”

More obfuscating about whether they will be cost effective, at least in 2012.   But it sound like a roundabout way of saying that the price could be about anything next year as at least some of the variables like yield are out of their control.    Note, the cost could be a lot less than what they paid for SGL and still way too expensive for a practical product.

“� DGLs will be available in higher quantities than SGLs.

� Based on our discussions with suppliers, we expect volumes to reach monthly run rates that far exceed historical production of SGL volumes. Direct green laser diodes will be manufactured similar to established manufacturing processes used for red and blue diodes today by some of the largest laser suppliers in the world. It’s an easy equation: Simpler = easier to manufacture = higher volumes and yields.

As my father said, “that is damning with faint praise.”  Since the SGL that they could use in laser beam scanning were only available in very limited quantities at high costs, this essentially says nothing.

“In the coming weeks we intend to provide a series of posts that discuss direct green lasers in more detail, as well as other business updates. Stay tuned!”

I hope they will because nothing they wrote in their blog/8-K told you anything but restating a few truisms that they have stated multiple times before.  They gave a answers to softball questions while telling you next to nothing about whether it would allow them to build a practical product.

I believe that even all the focus on green laser availability itself is a misdirection of sorts.  Beyond the cost, availability, efficiency, wavelength and other technical factors associated with direct green lasers, I believe the whole laser beam scanning concept has major other problems that are hiding behind the many years of scapegoating green lasers.

So what did one learn from their response that contradicts anything I  (or some other person) have written?   I couldn’t find anything.   Their statements are much like a politician that restates the problem and tries to pretend like this is the same as giving an answer.    I didn’t find anything Microvision wrote above to be factually wrong, it just doesn’t provide any real information other than restating the obvious and not telling the whole story.   Also nothing they wrote disagrees with anything, “the soothsayer” has written (mostly because it doesn’t really say much).

13 comments

  1. Bill kennedy says:

    Thanks for the clarification Karl. I appreciate your insight. The one thing that is very clear is that because of your blog Microvision is now releasing great forward looking statements! It’s nice to see after months of silence MVIS updated their blog and Promised more GREAT news to come. I have to be honest when I looked over your blog and noticed that Syndiant was potentially one of Microvisions biggest competitors, I had my doubts regarding the credability of the information you have provided. It appears that Microvision is Confident about 2012 DGL production and is willing to tell the world……which is a bit of a contradiction to your earlier blog post.
    Thanks Again.

    • admin says:

      Bill,

      Thanks I guess, but can you please be specific as to where Microvision contradicted my blog? What I saw them doing is more changing the subject and telling half-truths. Please re-read my post above, their blog, and see if you can find out where they contradicted me. Quote what they said that contradicts what I said.

      An example of what they wrote is “Ultimately, pricing depends on volume and yield hence we will not know the final pricing next year. However, the two important points to focus on are: DGL are much easier to manufacture than their “synthetic” predecessors and the budgetary quotes we see today reflect cost that is substantially less than the cost of the synthetic green lasers we purchased from 2010-2011.”. Rather than give information they gave a truism, which is that the price will be depend on volume and yield. What they didn’t say is that they could build a high volume projector with the prices they can reasonably expect. The reality is that 2012 will at best be a chicken or the egg year for direct green lasers with the prices high as manufactures start to ramp their production and this in turn will mean that the volumes will be low Microvision’s blog also didn’t say anything about whether the lasers would be efficient enough to support a practical battery based product.

  2. me_wwwing says:

    1. asked about the price

    In a past MVIS CC the price of DGL were to begin at 20% of the SHLs.
    Then the price will drop from there.

    2. efficiency

    1hr 20min run time – 15 lm seems good enough for sales in Stand Alone projectors.
    HUD’s will have no problems.

    3. embedded cell phone pico projector engine in 2012

    MVIS has said in past CC’s. it will take 18 months after the newest IPM is shipped to OEMs before we see MVIS embedded in a cell phone.
    I don’t think its wise for MVIS to speak about what another company will release and when they will release.

    4. Nichia already has a 510nm green laser.

    Seems they didn’t past MVIS requirements. The latest Disclosure said – two of the three should have commercial direct green laser released by mid-2012.

    Nichia has a 518mW in the LAB.

    5. the cost could be a lot less than what they paid for SGL and still way too expensive for a practical product.

    In a past CC MVIS indicated the price would start at 20% of the SGL. Then go down from there.

    6. available in very limited quantities at high costs

    10-15,000 a month was the last I heard for SGL. With 2 companies “run rates that far exceed historical production of SGL volumes.”
    That’s times 2 that -far exceed-. Sounds like they will be able to handle Pioneer’s after market HUD and Autos having HUDs for 2013. (by end of 2012).
    DGL need ramp up time to get to millions per month. That kind of demand will be driven by a cell phone company. – that’s when we know if any projector company will be embedded.

    what other company do you think will have a product out using the DGL?
    The price for DGLs will be high for them as well.
    I think it would be a HUD company. But haven’t read any thing saying how ready they are.

    • admin says:

      “1. asked about the price

      In a past MVIS CC the price of DGL were to begin at 20% of the SHLs.
      Then the price will drop from there.”

      I purposely don’t ask OSRAM what they sell their SGL to Microvision for (I have no need to know), but I have heard from analyst that they were costing over $100 a piece. So if even if the 60mW DGL were selling for $20 they would be wildly too expensive for about the 10 lumens of light output they would support. I would say that was impractical. Microvision also never tied any dates or volumes to any of those prices nor did they talk about efficiency or wavelength; they could be talking about 2014 production for all you know. See my new blog about Microvision’s predictions about power consumption.

      2. “efficiency

      1hr 20min run time – 15 lm seems good enough for sales in Stand Alone projectors.
      HUD’s will have no problems.”

      You have said nothing about efficiency in that statement. Efficiency would be in terms of lumens out per power Watt in.

      I have used all kinds of pico/small projectors from a few lumens to over 200 lumens and I traveled all over the world and I can tell you with with certainty that 15 lumens is totally uncompetitive in the market today and impractical in all but the darkest environments. All the LED projectors are at 30 lumens and above and these will sell for less than the Microvision product will likely cost to make. The only place that 15 lumen and less projectors seem to be selling is in India where the engines have to cost less than $25. That means that all 3 lasers better cost less than $10. I don’t see that happening in 2012 or 2013.


      “3. embedded cell phone pico projector engine in 2012

      MVIS has said in past CC’s. it will take 18 months after the newest IPM is shipped to OEMs before we see MVIS embedded in a cell phone.
      I don’t think its wise for MVIS to speak about what another company will release and when they will release.”

      When does the meter start on 18 months? They “launched” way back in 2009. If it is 18 months after a practical/competitive stand alone device, then you are talking a LONG LONG time from now.

      “4. Nichia already has a 510nm green laser.

      Seems they didn’t past MVIS requirements. The latest Disclosure said – two of the three should have commercial direct green laser released by mid-2012.

      Nichia has a 518mW in the LAB.”

      I think the Nichia 510nm green is probably all they could use in the HUD with Pioneer. I think you are going to find that “commercial production” means that they are going to be available for sale but the price is going to be pretty high, too high for most products. The light output is going to be too low to be really competitive. A laser in the lab could be 3 to 5 years away or more from production. A lab prototype means they build 10,000 devices and get this one that works better, the problem is what do with the other 9,999 until they perfect it. There is a lot of chicken or the egg in terms of ramping up production. You aren’t going to see somebody all of a sudden have 10’s of thousand of inexpensive green lasers.

      5 was redundant with #1

      “6. available in very limited quantities at high costs

      10-15,000 a month was the last I heard for SGL. With 2 companies “run rates that far exceed historical production of SGL volumes.”
      That’s times 2 that -far exceed-. Sounds like they will be able to handle Pioneer’s after market HUD and Autos having HUDs for 2013. (by end of 2012).
      DGL need ramp up time to get to millions per month. That kind of demand will be driven by a cell phone company. – that’s when we know if any projector company will be embedded.

      what other company do you think will have a product out using the DGL?
      The price for DGLs will be high for them as well.
      I think it would be a HUD company. But haven’t read any thing saying how ready they are.”

      Judging from the write downs and losses by Microvision they were not selling that many and were writing down inventory at a loss (including fire selling many of the 10 Lumen ShowWX’s on Woot and Amazon for less than $100). I don’t think anyone is going to have large productions of green lasers in 2012. The only company that seems positioned for significant volume in 2012 Nichia is with their 510nm green but it is the wrong wavelength for making a pico projector. I really think you are living with fantasy numbers. I expect that the Pioneer HUD will be a low volume product and probably too expensive for what it can do. We will see.

      • me_wwwing says:

        “1. asked about the price
        >but I have heard from analyst that they were costing over $100 a piece.
        That is what I heard too.
        >So if even if the 60mW DGL were selling for $20 they would be wildly too expensive for about the 10 lumens of light output they would support.
        Its just a starting price and the Pioneer HUD can cover for the price until there is a demand from a cell phone company.
        > they could be talking about 2014 production for all you know. See my new blog about Microvision’s predictions about power consumption.
        I did check out your latest post. You are comparing the whole projector to a cell phone company that is going to strip a lot of parts out.
        2. “efficiency
        >You have said nothing about efficiency in that statement. Efficiency would be in terms of lumens out per power Watt in.
        Just pointing out MVIS’s projector getting good run time with 15lm.
        >15 lumens is totally uncompetitive in the market today and impractical in all but the darkest environments.
        When Cameras went into cell phones they were less then 1meg. All I’m hoping for is a salesmen in an office setting can give a quick 20” slide show to show their product. For the masses a 15” photo or a quick youtube video to share on the nearest wall.
        >All the LED projectors are at 30 lumens and above and these will sell for less than the Microvision product will likely cost to make.
        Can’t recall MVIS ever aiming for the Stand Alone projector market. The ShowWX was only proof of what a laser scanning projector can do.
        we aren’t seeing the pocket projector market take off for any one.
        > That means that all 3 lasers better cost less than $10. I don’t see that happening in 2012 or 2013.
        2013 only if there is a cell phone company that is going to step in.

        “3. embedded cell phone pico projector engine in 2012
        >When does the meter start on 18 months? They “launched” way back in 2009.
        Everyone has been waiting for the direct GLs.
        meter starts when MVIS ships the new HD IPM to OEMs. Q1 2012.
        there might have to be some behind the curtain deal going on for the GL makers to ramp up. My thinking is the phone company will have to make an agreement with MVIS and the GL maker at the same time with some up front money. MVIS sure doesn’t have the money to make it happen.
        “4. Nichia already has a 510nm green laser.
        >I think the Nichia 510nm green is probably all they could use in the HUD with Pioneer.
        Osram said they would be ready with a DGL at the end of 2011. well that didn’t happen publicly. but I wouldn’t count them out. In my book I see 1st Osram 2nd Soraa then Nichia
        > I think you are going to find that “commercial production” means that they are going to be available for sale but the price is going to be pretty high, too high for most products.
        Yes, slow until interest comes from a phone company. 2013-14.
        Did you ever come across the growth times for these DGL crystals?
        I know Soraa bought 3” wafer systems. Just never seen any info on growth times.
        “6. available in very limited quantities at high costs
        >Judging from the write downs and losses by Microvision they were not selling that many and were writing down inventory at a loss (including fire selling many of the 10 Lumen ShowWX’s on Woot and Amazon for less than $100).
        Hehe, yeah it is costing MVIS a lot to prove their system works. But it does seem like some big name companies wanting to dip their toes in on MVIS.
        >The only company that seems positioned for significant volume in 2012 Nichia is with their 510nm green but it is the wrong wavelength for making a pico projector. I really think you are living with fantasy numbers.
        I’m can only guess from what is mentioned in the Discloser and past info on SGLs.
        Ps. I’m just a guy sitting in front of a computer screen.

  3. George says:

    Hey Karl! What’s your problem with Microvision? You seem to be preoccupied with their statements and business. Are you an investor in Microvision? Are youupset with them about something? You seem like you have an ax to grind with them.

    What gives?

    • admin says:

      First, see my response to to Bill today. It pretty much boils down to they say a lot of things that are untrue and junk science. Then they get all bent out of shape because the truth does not agree with the myths they have been purveying.

      Second, I have no stake good or bad in Microvision. My new role is as an analyst of technology. I can’t help it if what Microvision is saying/implying is false and disagrees with reality. Their goal appears to be to find ways to be able to print more stock, my goal is to sell my services as an analyst.

      If you find something that I have written that is factually incorrect please bring it to my attention. But please don’t use what Microvision has said as being a “fact” because as I have pointed out, they have no credibility.

  4. Joe says:

    Do you still have a stake in Syndiant?

  5. […] I wrote Microvision’s “Soothsayer(?)” for their “Number One Question” in  response to me in Microvision 8K’s “false soothsayer” […]

  6. […] “Soothsayer” series started back in December 2011 when Microvision released an 8-K a very trasparent response to this blog.  In Microvision’s […]

  7. Nandish Sood says:

    I truly like keeping up with these articles. It just makes
    my day.

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