Sunday, October 31, 2010

Microvision: Announcement of OEM for High End Media Player with Embedded PicoP™ Projector

The question of an announcement, by Microvision, of the OEM for the HEMP is on everyone’s mind. Some of us feel this announcement is imminent; while others feel it could be delayed for CES 2011 in January.

Either way, it is important to understand the various generations of Microvision PicoP Display Engines that we have [or will have] floating around very shortly… and based on which one the OEM decides to embed in the HEMP could very well dictate the announcement date.

Here we go…

1st Generation PDEs: This is one that went inside the SHOWwx [Standard and the Limited Edition] units shipped in March 2010. Features include a native resolution of WVGA (848 X 480), ultra-simple plug-and-play use, fiddle-free infinite focus, very high-contrast ratio, and bright vivid colors generated from ultra-miniature laser light sources. Users simply connect the SHOWWX to any mobile device with TV or VGA out (iPod, laptop, etc.) and project DVD-quality images from a mobile device, up to 200" across, depending on the ambient light.

Here’s the link to the press release…

2nd Generation PDEs: Interestingly, on March 29th; Microvision announced the completion and shipment of initial samples of its new display engine that incorporates a proprietary ASIC chipset half the original size and weight and that consumes one third less power than its predecessor while delivering uniformly bright, vivid color WVGA (848 X 480) images up to 200 inches. It also provides a 5000:1 contrast ratio – 5 times greater than other pico projector engines in the market today and is always in focus without the need for focusing dials or optics – an especially desirable benefit for mobile consumers.

On April 5th; Microvision announced that it had received an $8.5 million purchase order for its new ultra-miniature PicoP laser projection display engine from a consumer electronics customer. The OEM plans to [in my opinion] embed this 2nd generation PicoP Display Engine inside the high-end mobile media player for release in late 2010 and plans to announce its launch at that time.

Here’s the link to the press release…

3rd Generation PDEs: On May 24th; Microvision unveiled the increased brightness 15-lumen 720p HD-ready laser pico projector demonstrator at The Society for Information Display Conference.

According to Microvision press release, the 720p HD-ready prototype pico projector outputs 15 lumens of brightness while still maintaining its compact, low profile form factor, very similar to Microvision's current WVGA product. The company plans a commercial product version of a 720p HD PicoP display engine in the second half of 2011. The new 720p, higher brightness prototype highlights the capability of PicoP technology to support new performance levels while still maintaining the compelling attributes of the existing PicoP platform, including:

• Infinite focus;
• Wide throw angle that offers an immersive visual experience;
• Superior brightness uniformity;
• High optical efficiency resulting in low power requirements;
• 5000:1 contrast ratio; and
• Vivid colors of up to 200% greater than standard broadcast television.

Here’s the link to the press release…

4th Generation PDEs: These 4th generation PDEs will have to wait till first generation diode green lasers become available in 2012. Initially, the first generation diode green lasers are expected to be expensive compared to possibly the 3rd generation SHG green lasers that may be around… but still may find their way into the 4th generation PDEs as premium modules with higher brightness and resolution with lower power needs.

5th Generation PDEs: These 5th generation PDEs are expected to find their way into millions of PicoP projector in 2013; when 2nd generation diode green lasers would have dropped dramatically in price and reached optimum performance and efficiency levels.

All that is great news but for now let’s get back to the question of the OEM for the HEMP?

In my opinion, there is always the possibility that the OEM may go with the 2nd generation PDEs, as originally announced, and launch the product tomorrow on November 1, 2010.

However, if the 3rd generation PDEs are available now, or will be available shortly, I would change my bet and go with the CES 2011 in January as the possible announcement date.

If we were to pay attention to Microvision press release of April 5th; we may have the surprise announcement at the 3rd Qtr earnings conference call at 4:30pm on November 1, 2010…

“The unidentified customer plans to embed the PicoP engine inside a high-end mobile media player for release in late 2010 and plans to announce its launch at that time."

We just have to wait and see!

Anant Goel

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Microvision: What Business Growth Strategy?

Every business has to plan for growth and executives should make sure their growth plans are consistent with their dynamic business plan. A dynamic business plan is an updated version that is kept current to reflect the ever-changing business-operating environment. Especially in the technology and businesses, where the product cycles are so short and consumer preferences are mostly dependent on the next hot product or service.

When it comes to growth plans, the two ends of the spectrum are, for example, should a company grow quickly and unprofitably, like Amazon and Hotmail─ before it got acquired by Microsoft for $480 million, or slowly with a careful eye on the bottom line, like Ben & Jerry's ice cream parlors? It all depends on how much venture capital you have access to and what the competition is doing!

The worst thing you can do is fail to decide whether you're going to be a Ben & Jerry's company, or a Hotmail company, or an Amazon company.

There are three possible scenarios when focusing on the challenges of growing a business and picking the right growth model that is consistent with your business plan and positions you for whatever your ultimate goal is…

Number one: you want to be the gorilla of your industry in a hurry like Amazon.
Number two: you want to ramp-up your business fast and position for an acquisition like Hotmail.
Number three: you want to be a brick and mortar company producing steady profits like Ben & Jerry’s.

Regardless of what your business model is, the CEO and the CFO of the company need to formalize their business growth strategy and evangelize to the man in-charge of running the day-to-day operation of the business. Building a company is no small task? You've got one very important decision to make, because it affects everything else you do. No matter what else you do, you absolutely must figure out which camp you're in, and gear everything you do accordingly, or you're going to have a disaster on your hands.


Whether to grow slowly, organically, and profitably, or whether to have a big bang with very fast growth with lots of capital spent in a hurry, that is the question?

The first model, popularly called "Get Big Fast" (a.k.a. "Land Grab"), requires you to raise a lot of capital, and work as quickly as possible to get big fast without concern for profitability. I'm going to call this the “Amazon”, because Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, has practically become the celebrity spokes-model for Get Big Fast.

The second model is called "Hotmail for Sale or Fail". As for the name of our model “Hotmail for Sale or Fail”, I just made it up to make the point. This model requires you to raise only a small amount of capital, position for acquisition, and work as quickly as possible to build momentum to show there is promise of getting big fast… without concern for profitability. I'm going to call this “Hotmail” model, because Hotmail fits this model very well.

The third model, organic growth model, is to start small, with limited goals, and slowly build a business over a long period of time. I'm going to call this “Ben & Jerry’s” model, because Ben & Jerry’s fit this model pretty well.

Now the question is: “where on earth does the Microvision business model fit-in?"

The short answer is...


Microvision’s current business growth strategy is either non-existent or is severely flawed after the green laser debacle of late… that still continues to haunt Microvision even after 4 years.

Here’s one clue to the non-existent, or flawed, business growth strategy…

In early 2007, Alex Tokman, CEO of Microvision, was quite aware of the following facts…
*  Embedded pico projector was to be the holly grail for Microvision.
*  Without diode RGB lasers; the power, size, and cost of the laser light source based on SHG green lasers would be prohibitive for embedded applications.
*  In 2007, diode green lasers were 4 to 5 years away… as like in 2011/2012 time frame.
If you were to assume correctly, and AT was aware of these facts as early as in 2007, then why in hell his management team carried-on with an army of personnel in SG&A [and R&D] to continually spend over $12 million dollars every Qtr for the last four years. If AT had used this readily available information and some gumption to control costs to say $6 million per Qtr… today there would be lot less pressure to raise money to continue with operations─ while still waiting for diode/SHG green lasers, because Microvision would have saved over $96 million dollars in costs without sacrificing much.

Microvision management should have either changed their business growth strategy to “hunker down” and coast on a low cost/low profile basis until the green laser technology was mature enough with more plausible cost and performance metrics… or let someone else run the company, instead of pushing the company hard on the downward spiral of financial gloom and doom while waiting for diode/SHG green lasers.

Microvision’s current business growth strategy assures that they will continue to lose money-- as they are now… and continue to do so all of the next year and five years from now. The cost and availability of green lasers today, or a year or two from now, plays a role but its financial impact on the bottom-line profitability is very small when you consider the vicious [large volume/lower cost/lower absolute dollar margin] cycle associated with commodity products such as PDEs and IPMs that are sold to consumer product OEMs.

As long as Microvision corporate management is fixated on just selling their laser light based PDEs and IPMs in an OEM market that has all the makings of a commodity market… they will be at the mercy of the OEMs; for consumer product introduction time-lines, consumer product pricing, product marketing, and commodity component pricing with no pricing power.

Just look around and tell me if you see any embedded mobile phone camera makers or the touch screen makers [for things like iPad or iPhone] making any money worth crowing about. On the other hand, consumer product OEMs like Apple, with vision and gumption, come to market with one consumer product at a time─ on their terms, and rake-in billions in revenue and profits.

The current Microvision business model calls for hundreds of millions in sales of PDEs and IPMs to make a few millions dollars in net profit in a commodity type pricing environment … and that too, if and when the OEM customers let that happen.

Microvision still has time to re-configure its business growth model and seriously consider launching its own branded consumer products ─ possibly in partnership with large OEMs; and be the shaker, baker, and maker of its own destiny.

Just take the current situation of Microvision patiently waiting on its hands and feet─ and spending $12 million dollars per Qtr; while the OEM for the High End Media Player (HEMP) procrastinates on product configuration, product introduction time-lines, and product marketing and pricing issues.

In the best case scenario, the current Microvision business model can, in a year or two, only produce modest earnings growth of perhaps 12% per years for many years to come… and may never come even close to the hyper growth in revenue and earnings that we once believed was possible.

Anant Goel

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Microvision: Chickens Come Home to Roost

For a company that launched laser based SHOWwx in September 2009, and announced the availability of the hottest consumer electronic product of this decade, your management team is awfully quiet on all fronts of news with no visible signs of product promotions, marketing or sales. Granted, the backorders and future product introductions do count; but then again who knows for sure what the future would bring, and if the deliveries would be made at profitable terms.

Market does not like the lack of any significant news for extended periods and reacts by selling [and short selling] the Microvision stock. Just over the last few months, the stock price has dropped like a rock [down from $5.44 on October 26th 2009 to $1.96 this morning]. This kind of price drop, it seems, has become a norm for Microvision stock after every Qtr earnings CC or the Annual Shareholders Meeting.

Lack of news; or lack of any visible signs of product promotion, marketing, or sales does not build confidence in Microvision business model… and as a result, more and more investors [and supporters] abandon the MVIS stock every time there is carnage in its market price.

I don’t know if you realize how important the Microvision investors are to the well being, survival, and future prosperity of your [our] company?

Four years is a long time, and $160 million dollars is a lot of money, to accomplish what little progress Microvision has made under the current management.

Over the last four years, I have gone from being ultra bullish initially to being relatively bearish now. And that’s because too little has been accomplished over the last four years at an exorbitant cost of over $160 million dollars. Competition has caught-up with Microvision in all those product categories where the company may want to compete someday. And that someday still remains elusive and lies somewhere in the distant future.

Issues were well known four years ago; and they still are the same─ green laser technology, green laser quantities, green laser pricing, speckle, bow tie image effect, lack of image brightness, too warm to touch, too high a cash burn rate, constant need for additional funding, yada, yada, yada.

Over the last four years, Microvision spends almost $5 million per Qtr in SG&A; with an army of personnel in administration, management, sales, sales engineering, marketing, product development, business development, global business development, strategic planning & development, communications, Investor Relations, out-sourced Public Relations, etc. Any fancy management title that you can think of, you will find at least one, if not more, at Microvision. However, this army has basically produced very little in terms of product awareness, viral marketing, or sales… with years of insignificant revenues and zilch in profits.

If I were to vacillate between bullish to bearish [the so called flip flop] over a short period of time, your comments would have some merits. However, four years is a long time to learn the strengths and weaknesses of the management team that has been in place all these years.

Current management lacks vision and gumption… and that is worrisome because both cash and time is running out for Microvision. More of the same old… same old… will be detrimental to the well being of Microvision and its investors.

[Gumption: Courage, guts, nerve, bravery, common sense, good sense, horse sense, practicality, initiative, resourcefulness, get-up-and-go]

The current PIPE funding through Azimuth Opportunity Fund is indicative of the desperate financial situation that has finally arrived at the door steps of current Microvision management.

Sooner or later, we as the investors of Microvision will learn from our mistakes just like the current management of Microvision would realize soon enough that investor money is not an ever flowing river of milk and honey and the chickens do come home to roost.

Like many others, I too was surprised that Microvision, which has some great products and patents, needs to resort to financing through Azimuth Opportunity Fund. The fund is known as the equivalent of a pawn-shop in the investment community, as their strategy is not to invest for any period of time in the financed companies, but to dump the shares immediately in the market to get their invested capital out… and make as much profit they can get.

For me, and hundreds of others that have followed my recommendations, the mere fact that Microvision had to use such a fire-sale financing method is very negative… and is the final straw that broke the [proverbial] camel’s back.

Either the current management is very inexperienced and unaware how this will reflect on their company; or Microvision is really perceived as a bad risk by creditors.

Either way, the high cash burn rate and creditors' reluctance to lend more money to Microvision is not a good sign.

Someone recently made a comment at the Yahoo Message Board for Microvision…

"Microvision seems utterly unable to deliver on the promise of the technology and they have burned through all the money they are going to be able to raise trying to do so.”

“…. I'm sure the tech will become widely accepted but Microvision will have ceased to exist long before that happens. That's the real danger here. The company has been and is being run into the ground by …"

After 14 years and $385 million dollars later... such comments don't seem too far fetched. When you consider the last 4 years and over $160 million dollars in expenditure, while idling at the stop sign waiting for the green light, you would think that the management really believes in fairy tales and expects even more investor money to fund their orgy.

However, the good news is, if you could call it that, the chickens are coming home to roost─ we are down to the wire and are in the last two innings of this ball game.

Given another 9 months and the last $48 million dollars in pawn-shop slush fund, in my opinion, this fat and bloated management style will come to an end… or at the very least, there will be some re-balancing of the risk/reward matrices at the corporate management level.

Only time will tell the rest of the tale… in the meantime, smart money Wall Street has spoken by showing Microvision the door to the pawn-shops of the financial world.

Once Microvision burns another $48 million over the next three Qtrs, and at the end of this period is unable to self-sustain further cash requirements, nothing would matter... because the Wall Street investor community isn't buying this hide behind the stack of back orders and NDAs story any longer.

If Microvision management got something of substance, then come out with it and tell the Wall Street investors what the heck they have been doing all these years to make any money.

Business is about making money; to pay the bills and then some to show profit. It’s about time they get-on with the business... other wise they would be back to the "pawn shops" to raise more money and last a few more Qtrs to sing the "squint disease" bird song.


Disclaimer: These comments are author’s personal observations and opinions and are based on his own research conducted recently.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Microvision: United States Patent 7,822,086

Laser Projection Temperature Compensation

United States Patent 7,822,086
Brown, et al.
October 26, 2010

Inventors: Brown: Margaret K. (Seattle, WA), Sprague; Randall B. (Carnation, WA), Schaaf; Michael L. (Bainbridge Island, WA), Xue; Bin (Mukilteo, WA)
Assignee: Microvision, Inc. (Redmond, WA)
Appl. No: 11/829,459
Filed: July 27, 2007

The temperature of a laser diode changes in response to video content across a line of a displayed image, and the radiance changes as a function of temperature. An adaptive model estimates the temperature of the laser diode based on prior drive current values. For each displayed pixel, diode drive current is determined from the estimated diode temperature and a desired radiance value. A feedback circuit periodically measures the actual temperature and updates the adaptive model.

Here’s the link to full text and images database at USPTO web site…,822,086.PN.&OS=pn/7,822,086&RS=PN/7,822,086

This morning, the Microvision stock MVIS is up by a few cents and it makes you wonder why? So, we grabed our sleuth hat and went hunting for any news that may be driving this small move.

Here's what I found…
This patent on “Laser Projection Temperature Compensation” is the most significant patent to-date that Microvision now has in its IP portfolio… because, it provides much broader patent protection coverage for RGB laser light source diodes that could be used by anyone for laser light based image projection.

Some folks consider this worth a few cents added to MVIS stock price…

However, if the stock volume traded today exceeds 1,000,000 shares... then the true impact of this patent could be recognized much more widely as being larger than a few cents rise in MVIS stock price today.

When you consider a few pennies in royalties every time RGB laser light diodes are used as light source in video image projection… the royalty earnings impact could surely be worth lot more than just a few cents in stock price rise.

However, the use of RGB laser diodes as light source for multi-media video image projection lies in the future... so do the potential royalty based earnings for Microvision.

We just have to wait and see how this new twist in Microvision’s future plays out in terms of dollars and cents?

Anant Goel

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Microvision: CEATEC 2010 Japan

Microvision is at CEATEC 2010 Japan... booth #2A38.

That’s in the Home & Personal Zone at the Digital Network Stage.

Some of the other major global CE firms are its neighbors…
• Toshiba
• Sony
• Sharp
• Panasonic
• Hitachi
• Fujitsu
• Cisco Systems
• NTT Docomo

Some nice exposure to OEM community is expected due to Microvision booth proximity to these “shakers and bakers” of the Consumer Electronics industry.

Auri Rahimzadeh, President of The Auri Group, is the American journalist covering Microvision. This is what he had to say about Microvision after day 1 at the CEATEC Japan…

720P Laser Pico Projector from Microvision

Claiming to be the “smallest pico projector capable of 720p", Microvision showed off a pretty wicked solution for business professionals and those who need a low-power, super portable OEM-ready product. 15 lumens and 720p, and it’s smaller than 8 postage stamps.

PicoP also showed off a laser-based in-car heads-up display, with a full 120 degree field of view.


Here’s the link to his blog post from Day 1…

This year, it’s all about the 3D display technology with Pico projectors getting very little attention.

Anant Goel