Many have pointed to the decision by Google to pull the plug on the Explorer program for Google Glass as evidence that the “experiment” in the Google Glass program has failed. No other article has been more prominent than the recent piece in the NY Times “Why Google Glass Broke” (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/05/style/why-google-glass-broke.html?_r=0). Catchy title. Unfortunately, the article is all downhill from there. It completely misses the point. All of it.
OK, before I explain why all of this completely misses the point, I have a confession. I don’t want to be accused of being “Brian Williams” these days after all! OK, I admit it. I own Google Glass – complete with designer frame. I know personally that all that you read about the product itself is true (I’ve even personally seen Sergey Brin in a NY restaurant sans glasses!). It is not ready for primetime. All of the concerns about battery life, limited capabilities and not feeling safe in public (I have not dared to wear it in public) are spot on correct. But this isn’t the point.
It’s like saying that the first portable computer, the Osborne 1 (introduced in April of 1981 at a price of $1,795), had limited capabilities and battery life and so portable computers were a failure. Google’s Glass in it’s current form would never be a hit, much like the Osborne 1 couldn’t have been. However, and this is a big however, unlike the small startup Osborne, what Google, with its vast resources, has learned from Glass is all about strategic control, all about what is the key to its success: ubiquitous interconnectivity. And that is all that matters. And for this, Glass has been a huge success.
I wrote earlier (see https://competesmarternotharder.wordpress.com/googles-project-glass/) about wearables and how companies will, sooner that we think, make smartphones as we know it obsolete. After all of the hype around Google Glass and the Apple iWatch, see the following for two other executions:
The point has ALWAYS been about the interconnectivity. Whether it be Glass, contact lenses, a bracelet, a watch, a piece of clothing or something not yet imagined, isn’t the point. Whatever the delivery mechanism, the company that wins will be able to do this:
And Google above all other companies – be it through Project Loon, Project Fiber, its satellite foray with Elon Musk and Space-X, knows that what it has learned with Google Glass along with the ubiquitous interconnectivity, will be the company to do what the last video shows.
If only the NY Times got it, Google might not be in “stealth” mode anymore and competition might be for real. For Google, competitive ignorance is bliss. Sergey couldn’t have written the NY Times piece any better!