Karl Guttag on Technology
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As a reader of your blog since the beginning, I continue to look forward to any additional insight that you are willing to share concerning this industry and the direction that it is heading. Thank you for providing what I consider to be a trustworthy source of current information as well as valid opinions.
Did you post the following on the Yahoo! Message Board?
kguttag • 3 hours ago Flag
Microvision is in the last design. What I wrote is that the word in the industry is that they have been designed out for the next design.
Please find below HUD prices and rankings listed in the kakaku.com website Car Navigation Systems category.
Pioneer AVIC-VH0009HUD Cost: ¥229,790 Ranked #40 in Car Navigation Systems
Pioneer AVIC-ZH0009HUD Cost:¥222,000Ranked #45 in Car Navigation Systems
Kenwood MDV-737HUD Cost: ¥280,000 Ranked #252 in Car Navigation Systems
On 7/6/13, you posted the following on the MVIS Yahoo! Message Board in response to message: “Hey kguttag, here is post at Microvision Facebook posted yesterday.”:
“MVIS was and is not viable. It it ridiculously too expensive, takes too much power, and has terrible image quality (as side by side demonstrations have proven)”
Taking into the consideration the above prices and rankings, would you not say that your assessment of Microvision’s technology is incorrect?
My assessment of Microvision’s technology is correct. Microvision’s LBS by any objective measure is ridiculously expensive for the brightness and poor image quality it produces, is much higher power per lumen, and the image quality looks terrible compared to other technologies. After about $500M of shareholder investment, Microvision got one very low volume product to be made by another company and the word is that they were dropped by Pioneer. Microvision’s only other product for the consumer market, their ShowWX was a dismal financial failure. Microvision has reported a new contract from an undisclosed company and we will have to wait and see how that turns out, but so far Microvision’s track record is not good.
Your ranking comparing the (I think sales) ranking on one Japanese of two high cost (over $2,000 each) very low volume add-on systems wherein the HUD display is only a small part of the overall system is pretty much meaningless. There are any number of factors that could account for the difference in ranking including the time in the market, the relative marketing budgets, and very importantly the rest of the system.
More meaningful is Microvision’s Own 2012 Annual Report (published in April 2013): “Pioneer has reported a group net loss for the period April to December 2012. The group net loss has been attributed in part due to lower financial performance for its car navigation system business. As a result of this performance, we have reduced our expectations for significant 2013 follow-on orders for their after-market HUD product.”
The word in the industry that Pioneer is going with a different technology in their next generation HUD which is consistent with Microvision’s own comments in their annual report.
“There are any number of factors that could account for the difference in ranking including the time in the market, the relative marketing budgets, and very importantly the rest of the system.”
Time in the market could be a factor as the Pioneer HUD models I listed are second generation. However, it should be noted that Pioneer’s release of second generation models means the prediction you made in December 2011 did not occur.
December 10, 2011 at 10:25 am
“My expectation is that like the ShowWX it (Pioneer HUD) is going to be too expensive for what it does (and maybe you will be able to pick them up on a fire sale a year later like the ShowWX).”
The marketing budget could be a factor as Pioneer Corporation is a larger company than JVCKenwood. (However, if what you say about LBS versus LCOS is true, this leads one to ask why the larger company would choose the technology that “..is ridiculously expensive for the brightness and poor image quality it produces, is much higher power per lumen, and the image quality looks terrible compared to other technologies.”
December 10, 2011 at 10:25 am
“My expectation is that like the ShowWX it is going to be too expensive for what it does (and maybe you will be able to pick them up on a fire sale a year later like the ShowWX).”
“The word in the industry that Pioneer is going with a different technology in their next generation HUD which is consistent with Microvision’s own comments in their annual report.”
Microvision has not stated “Pioneer is going with a different technology in their next generation HUD..” This is a statement that you have made on this blog and on the Yahoo! Message Board based on “the word in the industry”. Would you care to share your industry source?
I get it, you don’t like that I reported having heard something that is dis-favorable to Microvision and you want Microvision’s stock to go up.
I suggest you read what I wrote a bit more carefully. I said that Microvision 2012 annual report which state that “Pioneer has reported a group net loss for the period April to December 2012. The group net loss has been attributed in part due to lower financial performance for its car navigation system business. As a result of this performance, we have reduced our expectations for significant 2013 follow-on orders for their after-market HUD product.” is consistent with what I had heard about Pioneer switching from using Microvision.
“I get it, you don’t like that I reported having heard something that is dis-favorable to Microvision and you want Microvision’s stock to go up.”
Karl, what I do not like is that you are reporting this without citing a source. Microvision’s annual report cannot be considered a source as it does not support what you have claimed. “..reduced our expectations for significant 2013 follow-on orders for their after-market HUD product.” does not mean “that Pioneer is going with a different technology in their next generation HUD”
Now, would you care to identify the source from whom you heard “. Pioneer is going with a different technology in their next generation HUD..”?
Microvision’s reports that they are reducing expectations for follow-on orders, this is consistent with their end customer considering other options. I don’t wish to identify my source. You will just have to wait and see how it plays out. I think you should look at Microvision’s track record for making big announcements that don’t work out as they “expected” and the many ones they just let quietly go away (are you still waiting for that Motorola cell phone projector from years ago?).
Here is what you wrote:
“Microvision’s reports that they are reducing expectations for follow-on orders.”
Here is what Microvision actually stated:
“..we have reduced our expectations for significant 2013 follow-on orders for their after-market HUD product.”
One should note that you omitted the word “significant” in what you wrote. Here is the definition of significant:
Sufficiently great or important to be worthy of attention; noteworthy
Why did Microvision make this statement? Find below a statement made by Alex Tokman during the Q3 2012 conference call
“To-date we have delivered about third of Pioneer’s backlog, and we expect to continue fulfillment of orders through Q1, Q2 of 2013. The preliminary results indicate that the quality of the components provided by MicroVision has been commendable. Pioneer has consistently indicated to us that it will take three to five months to gauge the Cyber Navi uptake in the Japanese market. However, some of you may know already from press coverage that Pioneer is accessing opportunity to sell in Europe. Consequently, we are executing against the current orders and continue to support our partner as they move forward.”
Microvision then realized that Pioneer would not begin marketing or selling the AR HUD in Europe so they reduced their “..expectations for significant 2013 follow-on orders..”. It should be noted that after Microvision made this statement, Pioneer introduced the second generation AR HUD product line. Therefore, your claim that Pioneer is going with a different technology is highly unlikely.
What could make your claim somewhat believable is a source that would corroborate it. I think you and I both realize why you cannot reveal such a source.
I guess you are just going to have to wait and see, like you did with Motorola Cell Phone (never happened, but Microvision Talked about it for years), Wowee (opps, never happened) , Uniden Australia (low volume rebranded ShowWX, Microvision’s ShowWX (big money loser, rapping $100’s of dollars around each unit), The Synthetic Green Lasers that were suppose to be cost effective only to have Microvision later say they were too expensive at $200, how about that great Media Player that they got an “order” for $8.5M for only to turn out that it was cancellable and this it turned out the “big order” was from a small Korean startup ESPLus that never went anywhere.
Microvision Investors have played Charlie Brown trying to kick Lucy’s football a lot of times.
Your comment, “Microvision then realized that Pioneer would not begin marketing or selling the AR HUD in Europe so they reduced their “..expectations for significant 2013 follow-on orders..”. It should be noted that after Microvision made this statement, Pioneer introduced the second generation AR HUD product line. Therefore, your claim that Pioneer is going with a different technology is highly unlikely.” might make sense to someone that irrationally believes in Microvision, but these are very small volume run products. They will switch technologies when they see fit. I expect we will know more by CES. If Microvision follows their usually patter, you will seem some kind of “big announcement” (at least Microvision will try and make it seem big) just before it becomes clear that they have been dropped yet again.
Objective analysis shows that the Microvision technology is too expensive, too power hungry, and with very poor image quality. Occasionally they get somebody to bite and experiment with it, but they usually don’t last long.
I have noticed that, we each post, you back away from what you have been claiming. You started with “The word in the industry that Pioneer is going with a different technology in their next generation HUD ” You then stated, “..their end customer [is] considering other options.” Then you wrote, “They will switch technologies when they see fit”. Which is it? Are you back-peddling away from what you initially reported? I think anyone reading this blog would believe so.
Karl, at this point, you truly need an “industry source” to save you.
I’m not backing away from what I wrote. You are just looking at everything through Microvision rose colored glasses. I am tired of your tit for tat and I going to stop wasting my time on it unless you have something new to say rather than your tedious parsing of what I write. If you don’t like it and you think I have lost credibility, then go someplace else for you information.
Karl, on the Yahoo! Message Board, I have asked you if Pioneer conducted an analysis of Syndiant’s LCOS technology for use with their HUD. Will you answer this question in this forum?
I don’t want to comment on any specific business interaction. I will say that generally Microvision was such a laugher of a comparison in cost, power, brightness and image quality that they usually didn’t even come up much. When we did the 6 way shootout at SID 2010, we had people ask us why we even bothered to show Microvision’s ShowWx because they looked so bad. We never considered Microvision serious competition. At the time We did like the fact that they spent and inordinate amount of money on marketing to help promote picoprojectors; they help shine a spotlight on a market they didn’t serve well.
“I don’t want to comment on any specific business interaction.”
I see. You would rather speculate about specific business interactions between Pioneer and Microvision. Why not comment about specific business interactions that occurred between Pioneer and Syndiant? You are not prohibited from doing so.
So what I see here are two opposing forces, one deeply against and one deeply for. What I see is a track-record of failure with Microvision. But to be fair? Where has pico-projection been successful? The biggest problem for Microvision is diversification. The company’s success or failure looms within a very narrow sub-industry. While companies like TI or 3M will continue to thrive whether pico-projection takes off or not, Microvision will not. My general belief is that it will, and the acceptance very well could start with Sony’s life space launching this summer.
The obvious question is why you believe Microvision/Sony will be successful this time. The Microvision LBS is still much more expensive, bigger, more power hungry, and with worse image quality than other pico projection technologies that have not succeeded in a big way. As I have pointed out previously, for most applications pico projection has lost out to direct view LCDs which are very inexpensive and work in most lighting conditions except for direct sun.
I see the Microvision/Sony deal succeeding because past Microvision deals centered around a single design, or product that in all retrospect was lame. And what consumers love is to be tickled. Simply put, a projector no matter its size still does the same boring thing: project. And if that’s all a product offers, good luck. There’s nothing knew in it and there’s nothing cool to it. But you begin to add in image recognition, touch and drag, sound, lighting, appealing form factors, various concepts, you begin to offer the consumer what he or she really wants in a purchase, a feeling of newness. I think the Microvision/Sony project has the real potential of refreshing how consumers interact with media. And although Microvision’s tech may not be the best in engineering specifications, a successful line of product depends on much more. Microvision has established itself as being capable of bringing an idea from the drawing pad, to the table, and now to the bank. My question is this: What other companies are doing this with their laser projection tech, while also offering the same upside in their underlying stock value? Any tips?
Karl, how would you rate Laforge Optical and their patent US9897886B2. Their AR glasses look like regular glassses and not like a cyborg at all. Can they be real? Did not find anything on your blog on this company.
Most generously, it would seem they are over their heads. I’ve looked at them a few times over the years and didn’t find them to that interesting (at least to me).
Thay had an Indeigogo campaign back February 2014 (the page no longer works, but the evidence is still there, for example from 2014 https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2014/02/32437-indiegogo-laforge-crowdfunding-icis-prescription-google-glass-competitor/). So they have not been able to get it to market in over four years. Not a good sign. They claim to be ready to ship soon (Feb Update: https://us3.campaign-archive.com/home/?u=fb7885b686c2a1d6696792b91&id=d2ef4ca69b) to about 700 people that paid in advance.
The idea is old and not very sophisticated. I have not checked their patent claims. They appear to be just embedding a very small beam splitter in the glasses. If they get it to work, it will have a very small image and eye box. By simple physics/geometry, the FOV has to be limited by the angle between the eye and the size of the beam splitter (less some border). Thus the image would at best be small, and you would only see it if you directly looked in a specific direction. It would also seem that the lenses are only there for show as they can’t correct the vision for the display.
My guess is that the image quality and utility won’t be better than their ability to deliver on something they started selling in 2014. I will give to them for persistence.
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