Managing Expectations for Google Glass

Google Glass
, Google’s grand experiment in wearable computing is starting to hit developers and early adopters. Reactions will be coming in the next few weeks, but I listened with interest to Robert Scoble’s initial reactions. Scoble is renowned for being keyed into the hot thing of the moment and he is often irrationally exuberant about certain products or services. So I was surprised to hear his muted reaction to Google Glass. He did note features he though were revolutionary and exciting but also listed many things Glass cannot do.

I think this is going to be common among the first reviews. It’s not going to be a this is the greatest thing to ever be invented kind of reaction so typical for Apple products. Which is not to say Google Glass doesn’t have huge potential and one day could be a major revolution in technology, but it’s going to take time. I think it’s going to take around 2 years before Glass truly reaches it’s potential. In that time, the challenge for Google will be to manage expectations, less they may fail before they get very far out of the starting blocks. It’s going to be very easy for people to write Google Glass off before it has a chance to mature. This is the risk of bringing out a product early. You’ll notice Apple never does this. Apple brings out their products only when they are fully baked and ready. Google, on the other hand, has a history of bringing products out as fast as possible. It’s a different philosophy but Google’s is far riskier.

So far, the marketing for Glass shows mostly people taking pictures and videos. That’s cool, but a $1,500 camera is not going to cut it. You see what I mean about writing Glass off early? The Marketing on Glass is going to have to be much better, pointing out how early we are in development and what the full picture looks like in the future. Let the early adopters have their fun, but as a general consumer, I need to know there’s something more here. Unless Google makes gadgets for geeks, than Apple will make the wearable device the masses fall in love with. I honestly don’t know where Google thinks it is on this spectrum. And that’s the big difference between Apple and Google. Apple has such a firm grasp on who it is and what it does and so does everybody else. Apple makes the most beautiful and elegant technology products in the world. I can’t sum Google up in a sentence. I guess if you asked a typical consumer they would say Google is the place they find things on the Internet. Fair enough, but what’s that got to do with Google Glass? This is the question Google has to answer.

I think wearable computing is certainly the next big thing, but I am not as clear if we will be wearing technology on our faces, wrists, or in our very clothes. I imagine we will look back at this first version of Google Glass in 5 years and laugh. What an awkward, strange thing it was back then. Eventually, Glass will be itself a miniature monitor in the very piece of glass, perhaps digitally transmitting HD images to a surgically implanted receiver in our retinas. Ray Kurzweil said the singularity is near, and it very well may be.