The future for the Meta 2 augmented reality headset will have to wait. While shipments were supposedly on their way out back in June, Meta revealed today that they need a bit more time to provide the best possible experience—and that's really for the best.
Here's what they had to say in an email to customers who preordered the Meta 2 development kit:
Over the past year, we have been working hard to ensure that the Meta 2 is an industry-leading augmented reality product that will capture your imagination the moment you take it out of its box. As part of that effort, we have been running Alpha and Beta test programs here at the Meta office – which have allowed us to collect important feedback directly from developers and customers like you – and have been strengthening our hardware and software solutions. We are proud of the progress we've made, but admittedly, our work has yet to completely cross the finish line.
That said, we are still committed to begin shipping Meta 2 units before the end of 2016. We will start shipping Meta 2 units to pre-order customers in small batches before the end of 2016, and will continue to ship in larger waves in early 2017.
We are confident that the finishing touches being added to the Meta 2 will deliver the best product and SDK possible. We promise to keep you up to date as to when your specific unit will ship, and we can't wait to hear what you think about our product!
With Kickstarter projects almost always missing their deadlines and video game delay releases becoming remarkably commonplace, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Meta didn't manage to get their developer kit out the door in time. With so many moving parts, it's immensely difficult to create and ship a product on a timeline. With something as revolutionary as augmented and mixed reality hardware (and its accompanying software), that process quickly becomes far more complicated.
While companies ought to start anticipating greater delays so they don't disappoint their fans (which often occur at the meltdown level), it's important for us consumers to remember the amount of pressure companies are under nowadays. We live in a culture of immediacy where most anything is on demand—even waiting for the next day can seem like a long time in certain cases.
Furthermore, companies need to get their products out as soon as possible to please their investors and get to market before someone else beats them to the punch. On top of that, the product has to be compelling. The Microsoft HoloLens is a revolutionary device that was delivered in a very reasonable time frame, but that hasn't stopped people from whining about it.
Having experienced the current version of the Meta 2 headset first hand, spoken with them at length, and seen it used in a live presentation, it was clear there were rough edges. I was relieved to hear about the delay because the product I saw wasn't ready to ship.
Meta has some stellar ideas, and I love their approach to human interface design, but their headset belongs to a category of products harder to create than most of us can even partially understand. Taking the necessary time to get something like this right is important. Delays suck, but I think we'd all rather wait for a great product than one that'll end up collecting dust.