The era of AT&T and Magic Leap has quietly entered a new phase that ramps up the mainstreaming of the cutting edge augmented reality device.
This week, the wireless giant began offering the Magic Leap One for sale directly on its website, a move that aligns with its recent decision to begin offering the device in five select stores across the US.
Along with the website update, AT&T quietly posted a new commercial devoted to selling the Magic Leap One to regular, non-developer and non-enterprise consumers.
Featured in the commercial are some of the most high-profile apps we've profiled in recent months, including Dr. Grordbort's Invaders, Angry Birds, Wayfair Spaces, Avatar Chat, and the CNN app. Oddly, Star Wars: Project Porg, possibly one of the most mainstream-friendly apps, is totally missing from the commercial.
And while leaving out Star Wars is notable, the most exciting app included in the video is an app that hasn't been (as of this writing) released yet: DirecTV Now. The end of the video shows a user sitting on his living room couch, selecting from a vast menu of video content, and then bringing up a Game of Thrones episode to watch.
We've checked the latest Magic Leap One update (Lumin OS 0.95.2), and it doesn't include the addition of DirecTV Now. Similarly, the Magic Leap World section of the system doesn't (again, as of this writing) include the DirecTV Now app. Nevertheless, if AT&T includes the app as part of its selling proposition to mainstream consumers, it's likely that the app will be released very soon.
Another notable detail in the commercial is a discreet note at the bottom of the screen during one part of the video that reads, "Magic Leap One is designed for indoor use only." This follows the guidance we've given based on our hands-on testing in outdoor environments, but it's an important (albeit not prominent enough) note for many consumers who might reasonably expect that a mobile device being sold by AT&T could be used outdoors like how one might use a smartphone.
As for the new sales site, there doesn't appear to be a US state restriction, which effectively makes this a nationwide rollout from AT&T. There's also no difference in price, as AT&T is selling the Magic Leap One for $2,295 (plus tax), and the company offers free shipping (at least if you're ordering from New York City).
The somewhat stealth launch is a refreshingly aggressive move just weeks after the release of the HoloLens 2, but there a still a couple of questions hanging out there for those familiar with the spatial computing company.
First, none of this mentions the frequently-promoted 5G wireless service as a part of the AT&T and Magic Leap partnership. Because of that promotion, some had assumed that AT&T might wait until Magic Leap released a more consumer-oriented version with cellular connectivity options before making the Magic Leap One an official for-sale product on its website. But AT&T isn't waiting; the company is going for it, now.
The other question related to this release is around the target audience for the Magic Leap One. As we've detailed before, Magic Leap's approach, which is currently focused on selling games and entertainment content, would be a brilliant way to draw in enterprise customers who might be more willing to shell out well over $2,000 for a (according to Magic Leap) developer-centric spatial computing device that they're totally unfamiliar with.
However, by taking a device that has been framed by Magic Leap as a developer/creator-centric device, and selling it to mainstream consumers, the indication is that Magic Leap can't afford to wait for the next iteration of its product.
With the HoloLens 2 arriving soon (and already receiving rave reviews), along with lower-tier (in terms of immersive experience) upstarts arriving, and Apple's rumored AR device coming any day now, Magic Leap is being compelled to make its move today.
For now, the company's strategy appears to hinge on the hope that the market will be ready and willing grow along with Magic Leap as it iterates toward a lower price and a 5G-capable device while the AR space is still a relatively open canvas with no clear leader. There are no sure answers to all these Magic Leap-as-mainstream-device questions, but by releasing it on AT&T's website, we should get some cash-backed (or not) answers from the public soon.