Alex Kipman, one of Microsoft’s top technical fellows, believes the age of the smartphone is over. “The phone is already dead,” says Kipman, in an interview with Bloomberg. “People just haven’t realized.” Kipman reportedly believes that a mixed reality device like HoloLens will replace the phone, but he hasn’t shared his exact predictions for the timeframe of when the supposedly dead smartphone will be replaced.
It’s not surprising Kipman would pick Microsoft’s HoloLens as the phone replacement. Kipman is one of the inventors of the technology inside the HoloLens headset, and helped develop it in secret underneath Microsoft’s visitor center in Redmond, Washington. Kipman also invented the Kinect sensor, and rose to prominence inside Microsoft after it initially sold well as a consumer gadget for the Xbox 360. The story of Kinect took a wrong turn when Microsoft attempted to bundle it with the Xbox One at a $100 price premium over its PlayStation 4 rival. The Kinect sensor is now laughed at by gamers, but is still widely used by researchers and developers as a 3D sensing motion camera.
Kipman’s bold prediction suggests that Microsoft thinks mixed reality, or augmented reality, headsets will be mainstream soon. The comments also follow a revelation from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella that the company's next phones "may not look like phones.
Microsoft first introduced its HoloLens headset more than two years ago, before shipping it to developers just over a year ago. Microsoft has not yet shipped a HoloLens to consumers, but anyone with $3,000 can buy one direct from Microsoft. A successor to the developer edition isn’t expected to arrive until 2019, as Microsoft has reportedly pushed back its plans due to a lack of competition. Both Magic Leap and Apple are reportedly working on similar augmented reality headsets, but neither seems ready to unveil them as a phone replacement just yet.