Google Glass had a nifty sci-fi feel to it when the product first came out. Along the way, however, Google apparently failed to fully appreciate both why the product should exist in the chosen form and the social aspects of the device. Calls for Apple to quickly follow Google’s lead now look silly.
The article I’m highlighting this week is: “How Google Totally Botched The Release Of The Most Exciting Consumer Tech Product Since The iPad.” While I have my doubts about Business Insider, in general, I have always respected the writing of Jay Yarow.
In this article, Mr. Yarow argues that “Google didn’t really know why Glass existed.” Glass is a product that is technologically feasible and appeals to our inner-geek, but wasn’t ready for primetime. Instead of its value being wholly embraced by the public at large, it was seen by average people as a restricted, expensive nerd-toy used primarily to spy on people. Yarow writes:
Today, people with Glass on their faces are attacked unfairly because it’s assumed that only elitist rich tech jerks wear Glass. If this was always for the masses, that might not be the assumption.
So when one of the most vocal and famous proponents of Glass, Robert Scoble, declared recently that the execution by Google hasn’t been good, that probably reflected the beginning of the end for the product as we know it now. Observers have noted that it’s not a big thing even with Google employees these days.
Mr. Yarow picks up on an important thread. Google didn’t prepare Glass as an affordable product for the average technically minded person, like the iPad. Instead, it beta tested the device with a selected number of journalists. Now that the public has its doubts about the product, Google will have to rethink the whole idea.
The scuttlebut is that perhaps in a few years, when the technology is sufficiently small (a contact lens?) and inexpensive that anyone who wants one can wear it with anonymity, then perhaps we’ll have a renaissance.
What interests me is that Google Glass has been the source of a pervasive outcry by observers that Apple is behind, Google is beating up on Apple with exciting, new technology, and Apple has lost its ability to innovate. While I admit that I was initially enthusiastic about Google Glass from a technical perspective, I never thought that Apple would or should try to, in a rush, mimic this product. (I’ve been more concerned that Apple isn’t paying enough attention to personal robots.)
I always keep in mind Tim Cook’s comments about how Apple thinks deeply about solutions to basic human problems, and the company does it in a way that millions of people can embrace and love the solution.
Google Glass as a concept for the human being’s heads up display isn’t a bad idea. It was, however, not designed and rolled out the way Apple typically does things. Now we see the danger of throwing too much against the wall just to look like a cool company. I hope this affair leads to a new, more profound respect for how Apple innovates.