Augmented reality technology company Magic Leap last year unveiled its first augmented reality (AR) headset, Magic Leap One, but sales fell short of CEO Rony Abovitz’s target, according tomedia reports. It may be several years before the second-generation product is released. The Magic Leap One headset sold about 6,000 units six months after it went on sale, compared with a previous target of 100,000, according to former employees and sources.
The company is currently building a prototype of a Magic Leap Two headset. It is reported that the device can connect to 5G network, a wider field of view, and the hardware is smaller and lighter, with a variety of appearance colors available for users to choose from. But the project is said to be subject to “fundamental technical limitations” and Magic Leap is more likely to release a minor product update in the near future, with only minor changes
Meanwhile, two high-profile board members quietly left Magic Leap in 2018: Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, and Paul Jacobs, the former chief executive of Qualcomm. But both men’s departures are justified. Jacobs was abruptly removed from Qualcomm’s board after trying to organize a takeover of Magic Leap; given Mr. Pichai’s growing role in Alphabet, Google’s parent company, Mr. Magic Leap. While Mr Pichai left, another Google executive, Jennifer Fitzpatrick, took over his board seat at Magic Leap, so Google itself did not abandon Magic Leap.
But Magic Leap has also reportedly laid off dozens of employees in the past few weeks. Last month it was reported that Chief Financial Officer Scott Henry and John Gaeta, senior vice president of creative strategy, had left the company. Earlier this year, the company mortgaged nearly 2,000 patents to JPMorgan Chase, the documents show. Magic Leap has said it is raising a new round of major funding. But if Magic Leap is going to have financial problems in the future, the mortgage deal could cause problems. This was the case with Meta, a much smaller augmented reality technology company, after a bank destroyed its assets.
Magic Leap said media coverage was “full of inaccurate and misleading statements”. But for now, it’s hard to be clear what’s going on with the company. The initial wave of hype around augmented reality has subsided, so Magic Leap faces not only the disillusionment of the public imagination, but also potential competition from tech giants such as Facebook, Apple and Microsoft.