It’s nice to know that a CEO of a public traded company is following my blog. On today’s Microvision Conference Call (available for a few days) at 34:16 in the call, Microvision CEO, Alexander Tokman, in his closing remarks gave a “shout out” of sorts with, “The direct green laser is becoming a reality this year and not 2014 as some led you to believe.”
As anyone that has followed Microvision or my blog and my comments on direct green lasers the last few months should know, by “some” he means “me.” First, he has mischaracterized what what has been written. What I have written is that direct green lasers will not be practical for high volume applications until 2014 or beyond.
As I wrote Microvision’s “Soothsayer(?)” for their “Number One Question” in response to me in Microvision 8K’s “false soothsayer” comments:
“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.
Instead of addressing the real issues, Microvision has seen fit to play silly word games with the definition of word “commercial.” “Commercial” simply means that companies will sell a product with a given spec. It does not mean the that product, in this case a Direct Green Laser will meet the cost and performance requirements for a high volume application. The reality is that the “commercial” direct green lasers are going to be available in 2012 (and 2013) are going to be way too expensive and with key performance limitations for any kind of significant volume consumer products.
Now lets look at the math in Microvision’s timeline. At 15:50 into the conference call Alexander Tokman talks about their commercialization timeline for a consumer product. He said they hope to have a company committed by “mid year 2012” and that companies will generally take “6 to 18 months” to develop a product. If you follow Microvision at all, you will note that Mr. Tokman timelines are usually wildly optimistic, but just taken him at his word with a “start” in mid 2012 and more realistically 12 to 18 months to get a product designed and ready for production adds up to products STARTING to be manufactured (not even high volume) in late 2013 to mid 2014 if (and this is a big if) everything goes according to Mr. Tokman’s hopes.
But given Mr. Tokman’s history of over optimism, this would seem to say that he is really talking 2014 or later; oh but wait, he said in the conference call that it was “not 2014 as some led you to believe.” So which does his mean?